Challenging night under the stars at Norwich Sleep Easy
More than 70 people slept under the stars in Norwich on Friday night, braving the cold and undertaking team challenges to raise awareness of the increasing issue of youth homelessness and much needed funds for YMCA Norfolk to help tackle the issue.
Taking part in the seventh annual YMCA Norfolk Sleep Easy event were Lord Mayor of Norwich Cllr Brenda Arthur, City Sheriff Beryl Blower and YMCA Norfolk CEO Tim Sweeting. They were joined by groups from Cotman Housing, Insight FA, St Thomas Norwich and Soul Church along with colleagues from Places for People and YMCA Norfolk.
After building their shelters out of cardboard boxes and sleeping bags, participants tackled Get Me Out of Here team challenges including breaking into blocks of ice, opening cling fling parcels wearing gloves and a slime-covered jigsaw to find hidden keys to unlock a treasure chest of treats or creepy surprises.
Participants also heard first-hand stories from young people who YMCA Norfolk are supporting as they talked around fire pits early into the morning about how they have been able to transform their lives with support and a secure home.
One of the youngest participants, teenager Josh Knights, said: “The evening was great fun till we went to bed. It was extremely cold, my bedding was damp and it was a real struggle to last the night.”
The Sleep Easy took place at Soul Nursery on Heartsease Lane on Norwich from 7pm on Friday night (February 12) until 7am on Saturday morning, when temperatures dropped to a chilly minus two degrees.
YMCA Norfolk fundraising and communications manager, Susie Knights, said: “In the middle of the night when you hear a rustling, you think ‘Is that someone trying to take my stuff, is it a rat?’ and you start to get a sense of what it might be like to live on the streets. The next morning, when you wake up, the thought of having to do it for another night is actually terrifying.
“On average it costs around £15 a night to put a roof over a young person’s head, to provide a safe and secure home for someone. Everyone who supports this cause is literally helping to transform a life.”
Organisers hope that over £10,000 will be raised to help tackle youth homelessness in Norfolk. You can donate at www.ymcanorfolk.org
Pictures by Julia Holland.