Amelia Douglas, a 29-year-old Graduate Quality Manager for DHL and Jaguar Land Rover, has been officially crowned as the youngest Sleepouter ever. Amelia, known for her diverse interests in anime, languages, and cultures, holds two degrees and is passionate about understanding people. “We have more in common than that which divides us,” she quotes from Jo Cox, who she cites as an inspiration. Her connection to the Sleepout dates back to before her birth, as her mother, Lynde Cashmore, attended the St Basils Big Sleepout 30 years ago while pregnant with Amelia. Intrigued by her mother’s stories of the evening, Amelia always felt a calling to participate one day. Amelia then took part in her first adult Sleepout in 2022, and is looking forward to her second this year.
Amelia’s journey to the Sleepout started with a challenging turn during the COVID-19 pandemic when she faced redundancy shortly after purchasing a house, causing financial strain. Despite applying for numerous jobs, opportunities were scarce. The experience took a toll, leading her to reflect on her desire to contribute and make a difference.
Amelia’s commitment to social causes began before the Sleepout- throughout the pandemic, Amelia was motivated to put her time to good use, volunteering with Tabor House, a homelessness organisation. Her time giving person-centred care and even bringing in baked treats to express her self-professed “love language” emphasized to Amelia the need to address the diverse challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness through kindness and humanity.
Amelia started noticing homelessness more and more in her daily travels. “One day, I saw a homeless female on the street, and I asked her if I could get her anything from the shop. When she asked if I could buy her some period products, I was shocked. It really opened my eyes, and really resonated with me as a woman. To be so uncomfortable… I wondered how long it had been since someone had offered to buy her those things. Of course, I bought her everything I could, and we chatted for a while. From that point, I knew that this could happen to any one of us.”
After her experiences spending time with people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, Amelia finally took the plunge to spend a night under the open sky at St Basils Big Sleepout. The experience was both humbling and eye-opening. Even though the experience was uncomfortable, Amelia still maintains: “If I can educate people on something I’m passionate about, I’m happy! Knowledge is power.” Amelia acknowledges the harsh reality of homelessness, dispelling stereotypes and emphasizing the importance of stability in one’s life.
Looking ahead to the 2023 Sleepout, Amelia anticipates the humbling experience and hopes to inspire others to participate. “I’ve done my job if someone says they’ll do it again this time!” she states.
Amelia’s story underscores the power of personal commitment and empathy in addressing societal challenges. We can’t wait to see Amelia at this year’s Sleepout- we think it now must be in her DNA!
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