Pictured: Zain Rizvi and Holly Moulton outside St Basils Birmingham Youth Hub in Nov, 2023.
Zain Rizvi, a 39-year-old management consultant from London, is gearing up for his 25th “Big Sleepout” to support the prevention of youth homelessness through the youth homelessness charity St. Basils. Born and raised in Birmingham, Zain’s dedication to this cause began at the age of 14 when he participated in his first Sleepout after learning about the event from a schoolteacher.
Over the past 25 years, Zain, with the support of his ever-generous friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers, has raised an impressive sum of approximately £25,000. His commitment to the cause is remarkable, and he is about to reach a bittersweet milestone with his 25th Sleepout, scheduled to take place on Friday, December 1st, at Millennium Point in the heart of Birmingham.
Zain recently visited St. Basils’ head office and frontline services to gain firsthand insight into the organisation’s operations and understand where the funds he raises are allocated. During his visit, he spent time with Vanessa and the Outreach team, learning about the complexities and challenges they face in building relationships and trust with young people experiencing homelessness.
The experiences shared by St. Basils’ team highlighted the psychological toll of homelessness, emphasising the importance of not only providing shelter but also fostering a sense of community, support, and mentoring. Zain, who has chosen to make his Sleepouts even more challenging by forgoing sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets, expressed deep empathy for the emotional struggles faced by those without a stable support network.
St. Basils addresses the multifaceted needs of young people, from breakdowns in family relationships to medical conditions and learning difficulties. Zain had the opportunity to discuss these issues with Michelle at St. Basils Hub, gaining a deeper understanding of the organisation’s patient, empathetic, and kind approach to guiding young people through assessments and providing ongoing support.
Chantel and her team at Milner Court, one of St. Basils’ emergency accommodation projects, shared stories that debunked stereotypes surrounding homelessness. They highlighted cases where individuals who had experienced stable living situations found themselves homeless due to unforeseen circumstances, such as the recent cost of living crisis. St. Basils’ transitional support played a crucial role in helping these individuals regain independence.
Zain encourages others to join him in the fight against youth homelessness by participating in the Sleepout on Friday, December 1st, at Millennium Point in Birmingham. Reflecting on his own journey, Zain emphasised that the event is not just about physical discomfort but about raising awareness of the mental and emotional challenges faced by those without stable housing.
“I started my first Sleepout when I was a teenager. It’s not just about surviving a night outdoors; it’s about understanding the deep-rooted issues that contribute to youth homelessness and supporting organizations like St. Basils in providing comprehensive solutions. Together we really can make a difference,” said Zain.
For those interested in supporting Zain’s Fundraising page, click here.
Pictured: Zain Rizvi at the 2019 St Basils Big Sleepout- his 21st time participating.