Hey everyone, last December I took part in a global charity fundraiser in London’s Trafalgar Square. The charity fundraiser that I took part in was The World’s Big Sleep Out which was in order to raise money for the homeless and to help end homelessness. 60,000 people slept outside across the world on Saturday 7th December. The idea was to host big sleepouts across the world in iconic places such as London’s Trafalgar Square, New York City’s Times Square, the Hong Kong Observation Wheel, Cebu City Sports Complex Abellana, & many more locations.
I first discovered this charity event through social media and decided to look it up. I knew straight away that it was something that I wanted to take part in. I have always done various different charity events whether it was taking part in Children In Need events at school, raising awareness about a charity online, or donating food to our local food banks. I completely understand that not everyone is able to donate with money however, social media is such a big part of spreading awareness even just doing a story about a cause you want to share can go a long way.
I pre-registered for the World’s Big Sleep Out a few months before on their website specifically for the London locations. You could host your own event if you wanted to however, I wanted to be a part of one of the official events. I was then contacted by one of the official team members who sent me an event package that had more information about the event. I was also able to ask the team member any questions that I had in the run-up to the event.
Two months before the World’s Big Sleep Out we were each given a Virgin Money Giving page which we could set ourselves a goal to reach and then share with everyone to donate. I sent out the link to my donation page to everyone including my family, work colleagues, and I posted it on social media quite a lot. I knew that people would donate if they wanted to so I only made sure to post about it a few times as I didn’t want to post about it every second of the day.
Like I have mentioned above the event was to raise awareness about the homeless as well as raise money global to help end homelessness. It’s not only people who don’t have a roof over their head that counts it’s also people who don’t have a permnent address and are sofa surfing for example or temporarily living in a friend’s spare room.
I was given a slot at London’s Trafalgar Square which I was really glad about as I was hoping to get that location. A few weeks before the World’s Big Sleep Out the organisers sent out a packing list of recommendations of things to bring for the night such as a sleeping bag, warm clothes, a raincoat, snacks, flask, hat, gloves, scarf, etc…The main event was on Saturday 7th December as it was in the middle of Trafalgar square they had fenced off the main part of it and had security for the event. Now I completely know that this isn’t an actual representation of what the homeless face every night as they don’t have security or gated off areas where they can feel safe and sleep. However, the idea wasn’t to completely understand what it is to be homeless but to have a sense of what they have to go through and to spread awareness about it.
The event doors opened at 17:30 pm and closed at 20:00 pm you had to check-in before entering the main area and they also had bag checks as well. You were given a bivvy bag which is essentially a big orange plastic bag where you can put your sleeping bag inside and all your belongings so that they don’t get wet. While I was in the queue I met a woman called Sophie who was also alone so we stuck together for the rest of the night and now we’re friends and have a special experience in common. Once inside we were directed to a spot where we could set up our things for the night. We chose to be near the fountain as it meant we could sit on the edge of it to watch the stage because we are both not very tall so it was the best place to sit and see over everyone. I did worry that the fountain may overflow in the night if it rained heavily but luckily it didn’t!
The World’s Big Sleep Out London had a great line up of entertainment including Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Jake Bugg, Tom Walker, Gang of Youths, & Travis. It was really cool to see these acts up close as there were only around 2,000 people at the event so it was almost like a private concert. We also had inspirational talks from people who work with the local charity beneficiaries which were Thames Reach, DePaul, The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Homeless link & The Big Issue. It was amazing to see what each individual charity was doing to make a difference.
There were a few food trucks dotted around which you had to pay an extra fee for but these were handy for dinner. There was also a warming tent that had lots of heaters inside and also unlimited tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. There were also stations where each charity was set up so that you could talk to them and volunteer if you wanted. The entertainment finished about 22:00 pm when Dame Helen Mirren came out to read a bedtime story to all of us. Helen was also doing a sleep out but in her back garden instead. It was then time to go to sleep it did take a while for me to sleep as it often does in new surroundings. As this was also in the middle of London you had the sound of traffic too which took a while to get used to.
I think I got around 4 hours of sleep on and off as it rained for a few hours so that woke me up for a bit. However, as I had many layers of clothes on I was actually quite warm which is a stark contrast to some people who unfortunately don’t have enough clothes to keep them warm during the colder months. I woke up at 5:30 am and a lot of people were already heading home so I thought that I would do the same as I had been at the venue for 12 hours at that point. Overall, I am so glad that I did it as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it definitely taught me a lot and made me consider my day to day choices. I managed to raise £905 which I was proud of considering it was just myself taking part and not a team from my work or a group of friends. I would definitely consider taking part in something like this in the future because although it was a massive challenge it was really rewarding at the same time too knowing that I was helping to spread awareness for the homeless.
The charities that I mentioned are:
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