The Big Imagine Sleepout - A Reflection
As the first major fundraising event undertaken by New Hope and our corporate sponsors, the evening was unexplored territory for myself and the fundraising team. Having been at the site from the early hours and seeing the pitch shrouded in an eerie, chilling mist, I wondered briefly whether the hundreds of participants would attend, knowing that they were in for a troubled night of shivering and vague attempts at sleep. But, as is often the case with trying something new, my concerns were unfounded and I was humbled to see so many dedicated individuals bustling around the registration stands and the teams of volunteers who kept the event running smoothly.
By midnight, 165 people had bedded down on mats of cardboard, tightly wrapped in coats and sleeping bags – teams from local businesses, youth groups, Scout groups and many members of the general public, sleeping side-by-side in solidarity for the work of New Hope and those who have no choice but to sleep outdoors. I spent much of the night to the side of the sleepout zone, clad in a fluorescent waistcoat in case I was needed by any participants but was amazed by the commitment shown by everyone there to spend that one night outside so others may receive the accommodation and support that New Hope provides.
Throughout the early hours, as people were waking and collecting their belongings, I had many conversations with the participants as they made their way back home (or in some brave cases, to work) and there was less of a feeling of accomplishment but more a sincere expression of empathy and recognition that, although only a fraction of the true experience of homelessness, a night outdoors was deeply humbling.
The success of the event was beyond any of our expectations as a fundraising team, and as a charity. With over £50,000 raised, New Hope will provide beds, hot meals, showers, laundry facilities, staff support and ultimately hope for those in urgent need.
We are all incredibly grateful to everyone who gave their night in aid of the work we do, to the corporate sponsors who provided the cardboard, big screen, food and security, as well as those who sponsored the event financially, and of course to Imagine Property Group, who bought into the dream of a New Hope fundraising event and made it a reality.
Below are some of the kind words that were shared with us throughout the night:
“I came here to see what’s it like for people who are homeless and to find out how they feel when they’re on the streets and to raise money to help them.’ Luke Bond, aged 12.
“We’re here tonight to help New Hope raise awareness for the fantastic work they do. I volunteer there once a week in the kitchen at the Haven. We’re hoping to raise even more tonight.” Nicola and Ed Buckwald who have raised an incredible £7,752!
“If you’re homeless and on the streets, no-one has it worse than you. The Big Imagine Sleepout helps you understand the work of New Hope and truly helps deliver that one thing people need in life – hope. When I think of the sleepout and how much it can raise, I think of hope.” Seamus Williams
Joe – Fundraising Team