Tonight we’re going to be sleeping out under the stars in the middle of Stockport – or at least under the cloud and ‘light rain’ that is forecast!
Why would we forgo our warm and comfy beds to do this crazy thing you might ask?
It’s because according to the Department for Communities and Local Government, on any one night over 4,000 people are sleeping rough in England, an increase of 16% from 2015 to 2016, and 134% since 2010. The reality could be far more than that.
Indeed, the issue of homelessness extends beyond rough sleeping, and it is estimated that more than a quarter of a million people have no home. Again, these figures just relate to England.
Now, we think that having a roof over your head is a pretty fundamental human need, especially in our cold, damp climate. If we cannot provide some kind of shelter for four thousand people it’s a very poor state of affairs.
People end up on the streets for all kinds of reasons – they could have lost their jobs, had their benefits cut, been fleeing from abuse, be suffering from mental illness. They represent some of the most vulnerable people in our society and we turn our backs on them, quite literally walk past them, and turn a blind eye to their plight.
The Wellspring is a fantastic local charity providing a service to homeless people, 365 days a year. They offer a drop-in centre, where people can access food, clothing, support and advice. And tonight they are holding an organised sleep out to raise funds and awareness.
We don’t want to just walk past and turn a blind eye.
We don’t want to be complicit in ignoring this issue.
That’s why, just for tonight, we’re going to be sleeping on the streets of Stockport.