Rough night highlights Norwich homeless plight
Norfolk Street Pastor and teenager Aaron Curran, joined 55 others sleeping rough on the Norwich streets on January 29 at the YMCA Norfolk Sleep Easy event to raise awareness for the homeless and to raise money. This is his personal account of the event.
As a writer for Network Norfolk it is easy to find out about events such as these but what really compelled me to sign up for the ‘Sleep Easy’ event was the experiences I’ve encountered whilst out as a Norfolk Street Pastor. It truly is a unique opportunity to be able to help the homeless on a Friday or Saturday night and get to know them and their stories. This is what led me to putting myself in their shoes for one evening.
The event started at 7pm when people starting arriving and finding their pitches in-between the gravestones of the St Peter Mancroft Church graveyard. After setting up bed I soon realised how long the night ahead would be as I looked down to see my sleeping bag lying on a bit of cardboard on the ground.
A number of icebreakers and games were put on throughout the night to keep us both warm and entertained but also gave us the chance to get to know one another. Examples of these games included a 40-person rock, paper, scissors tournament and a game of people bingo which turned into a hunt for the person who owned a Cliff Richard album.
I also really appreciated Rev Janet Wyer, priest of St Peter Mancroft inviting us into the church for a candlelight service which included prayer for the night ahead, not only for the participants of the ‘Sleep Easy’ event but for all the homeless in the city, I did feel a lot safer under God’s blessing.
The weather stayed nice for the duration of the night and was warmer than I expected but I was still happy to receive a warm cup of soup nonetheless. I managed to get to sleep at 11 and slept through until 4 even though it wasn’t the best night sleep I had ever received.
Coming away from the event, it really opened my eyes to what the homeless go through night after night. It almost felt disrespectful to go home, have a warm shower and get into bed to have a nap.
Pictured above is Aaron Curran preparing for a night of rough sleeping.