With an unusual objective: to brave the cold and dark, sleeping rough in Exeter Guildhall Shopping Centre. The purpose of this unenviable task was to raise awareness of the plight faced by the homeless, whilst raising vital funds to help YMCA Exeter continue their work with vulnerable young people in the city.
The evening began with a cardboard shelter building competition and guests being treated to live music. A range of local bands and artists competed on stage in a busking competition, won by band ‘Triple AAA,’ who entertained the crowd with their folk rendition of some popular classics. As a prize, Triple AAA have been offered a chance to perform live over local radio station Phonic FM.
The highlight of the evening, however, was the testimonies given by current YMCA residents, whose honest stories were an eye-opening insight into the harsh realities faced by the homeless.
Commenting on the event, organiser Bethan Spencer admitted that she had struggled to sleep, adding, “Whilst this was not a genuine experience of homelessness, I hope that participants gained just a little insight into the harsh realities faced by those who experience these circumstances daily.”
YMCA Exeter would like to say a special thanks to MP Ben Bradshaw for taking part in this year’s Sleep Easy, as well as Warwick Event Services and Gilbert Stephens for their help in organising the event.
All the participants have collectively raise a staggering £10,000 so far, which will help YMCA Exeter house two more homeless young people over the next year.