Sophie Leer writes an article in defence of RAG’s sleep easy campaign to raise money for the homeless.
I used to be one of those people who would walk straight past a homeless person on the street. Like many others I am sure, we do not feel obliged to help these people because we feel so distant and separate from their lifestyle. It is easy for us to walk past with nothing more than a pitiful glance and continue trying to get to that shop before it closes, or get home with that sacred portion of cheesy chips growing cold on the drunken walk home. It was not until meeting Joy Taylor, a woman who has dedicated so much of her life to helping homeless people through her work with the YMCA, that I realised there is so much more we can be doing for those people who have no place to call their home.
The YMCA is a charity organisation housing young people aged 16-29 who have found themselves in an unfortunate situation which has left them homeless. After hearing stories of these residents, and realising that some of these people have been made homeless by situations completely out of their control, I was determined to help. But above anything else, I was drawn in by the knowledge that these people are not much different from me, or you, or anyone at this University who have just been dealt good cards in life. There are many people out there who have not been so lucky. Through sleeping outside for just one night, we can begin to understand what these people go through every single day and it will make everyone involved feel more connected to these people who we would normally walk straight past on the street.
The Sleepeasy, taking place on the 24th March outside the Great Hall piazza, will bring together people who want to make a difference but do not know how. With this event, each participant will know exactly where their money raised is going and what a difference it is making. Just £5,000 houses a young person in the YMCA Exeter for 9 months, so with a £50 fundraising target, we need just 100 people to change the direction of someone’s life for the better. Changing one person’s life is enough but if we could do this 5 times or 10 times then we are making a monumental difference in the lives of people our age or younger. We are also trying to create a culture where it is encouraged to talk about homelessness, and not look at homeless people as the ominous ‘other’ who are too distant from our own lives to necessitate talking about.
To get involved in the event, visit our Facebook page or look on the Guild website to sign up*. There is so much value in sleeping easy, and we urge you all to make this step into the world of the ‘other’. With your help, we can all work together to give these people the same chances in life that we have been allowed.
*Sign ups cost £5 and the target of £50 fundraising per person needs to be submitted through MyDonate by the end of April. See the Facebook page for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org me