On Friday 22 March, local charity YMCA Bournemouth held an evening function at Tiien Restaurant in Bournemouth to launch their annual sponsored ‘rough sleeping’ event: the Big Sleep Easy.
This year’s event, which will involve teams from local organisations braving the cold to sleep outside for a night to raise funds and awareness of homelessness, will take place at Bournemouth Sports Club (Chapel Gate) on Saturday 16 November.
At the launch event, around 40 representatives of local businesses and organisations who had expressed an interest in taking part in this year’s Big Sleep Easy gathered at the popular Thai restaurant to enjoy a buffet sponsored by Lester Aldridge solicitors. The company had been enthusiastic participants at last year’s event and emerged as its most successful fundraisers.
Matthew Barrow, Managing Partner at Lester Aldridge, said: “ We all found it incredibly tough. It gave us a tiny glimpse of how hard it must be as a way of life. Homelessness is something that could happen to anyone and we are happy we are able to support such a worthwhile and effective project. If you are considering taking part this year, we’d really encourage you to do so – we’ll certainly be there!”
Attendees at the launch watched a video of the 2018 Big Sleep Easy which showed teams building cardboard shelters – some practical and others, such as one with vape smoke emerging from its chimney, distinctly curious – before wrapping up warm and settling down for the night. It conveyed the overwhelming positivity and camaraderie of an event that saw 98 participants raise a record-breaking £25,000.
Speakers on Friday included individuals who had themselves experienced homelessness and the one-to-one support services provided by YMCA Bournemouth. The audience sat quietly as they heard about the difference the charity had made to their lives.
The charity’s Communications Officer, Richard Chumbley, later referred to those stories when he talked about the reasons for businessess to get involved. “We write about the benefits, such as team-building, being seen to support the local community and the fun of the night itself, but underneath it all we know that you get involved because of people like the gentleman you’ve just heard from, the people we help.”
Richard also emphasised the value of publicity: “This is not an occasion for businesses to hide their light under a bushel,” he said. “You can be rightly proud of being involved and it serves as an example to other organisations: what a world it would be if all businesses did something for the local community? This event is about spreading awareness as much as it about fundraising, and you can help us do that.”
Organisations represented at the event included A Storage, Hybrid Sales & Lettings, Konsileo, Head & Wheble,#Hackforhomelessness, Newnham & Jordan, Anytech Solutions, Calvary Pentecostal Church, Store & Secure, Motley, Make Studio, Mags 4 Dorset, Dorset Chamber of Commerce, Ouch Training, Natural Skin by Lynne, Strategic Solutions, Tempus Investors, and Stour Valley and Poole Partnership.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Big Sleep Easy, please visit http://ymcabournemouth.org.uk/event/the-big-sleep-easy-2019/ or contact Sheena Dayman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07824 333505