A Powerful Message for Middlesbrough


CEO Sleepout Middlesbrough at The Middlesbrough Town Hall Courtyard on 5th May this year was an eye-opening experience for those who took part.

We received some incredible feedback and wanted to share some stories from our sleepers with you.

 

I covered a story about a homeless cafe in Middlesbrough before Christmas. It really made me think about the homeless community in Teesside.

I heard stories of people ending up on the streets but also the hope that the cafe gave to the people attending and what it meant to them to feel treated as equals for a few hours a day. I wanted to do something to help raise money and awareness.

The people who were doing the challenge were incredible. I had only met one other participant before, but because you are all in it together you form a bond quickly and find out so many things about the other people, their businesses, their lives and keep each other company through the night.

I didn’t expect to have a good sleep but I managed about 30 minutes. I found that my senses were so heightened and I was on high alert the whole night. That was in a safe and controlled environment.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to find a different place to sleep each night and not have anyone else there to keep you safe. It might have only been one night sleeping out but I have so many conversations with people already about the experience. Speaking to Kerri was so insightful. She talked about treating homeless people as equals and if you offer to help you should offer food and give the person a choice – I’ve done that in the town centre already this week for someone.

Rachel Teate, Producer, BBC Radio Tees

 

I initially signed up to do some networking and get a tiny snippet of what a night on the street is like, even behind closed doors. After taking a day to reflect(whilst working) I thought I would share my experience.

The night started with an introduction from all the local charities that will benefit from the funds raised, which was followed by a guest speaker with lived experience Kerri Douglas who lived in cardboard city from the age of 13, she shared her life story with us, she is truly an amazing and inspirational person who has turned her life round. She has written a book named Gutter to Glory: From the Pavements to Parliament, despite now being declared as hidden homeless, after fleeing a domestic relationship Kerri is remaining positive and staying involved in the charity fundraising. We then had a bit of a mingle and had a “bedtime” story before I was given a brief interview for BBC Radio Tees.

Then came the joys of trying to find a spot for the night, again not always a luxury for people who are living homeless. I picked a spot on my own and laid on my sleeping bag thinking about the night ahead. Luckily at this point, it was not a cold night and was still dry. As I laid there, it felt like time had stood still, even though there were people there and I had access to my phone, I felt so alone. It was very quiet apart from a little group in one of the corners who appeared to have sought company with each other. I got up to make a coffee and was invited to join the group.

In the group time appeared to be a little quicker as you were with other people and the feeling of loneliness started to disappear. The time was about 12:30 and people were starting to fall asleep, so it started to become very quiet and you could hear every little noise, which made falling asleep very difficult. Over the next hour most of the few people that were awake had now fallen asleep, leaving only a couple of us awake. As I laid in the quiet, cold and dark I couldn’t help but think about all the people who had to do this night after night, without the protection of locked gates and security, even with these things in place you still felt vulnerable. I laid awake most of the night and finally fell asleep about 4:15/4:30 and woke up at 5:20. We began to pack up our belongings and make a drink before being allowed to leave at 6am.

I had time for the remainder of the day to reflect about the things that can easily be taken for granted, I was able to go home and get a warm shower, go to work, enjoy 3 meals, drinks when I wanted/needed them and then get into a warm and comfy bed, behind a door that locks and a roof that protects me from the rain. It was a harsh reminder of how lucky I am and that no matter how tough things may be, there is always someone in a worse position.

 

Stuart Bruce, My Space Housing

 

I’m passionate about raising the profile of the reality of what life is like for those facing adversity and playing my part to challenge this. It was a privilege to partner with CEO sleepout and all those supporting the cause!

The best bit was getting to meet Kerri and hearing her story. Meeting with others passionate about doing their bit!

The worst bit was laying awake at 4am and recognising how blessed i am to be going home to a warm bed in the security of a safe home and reflecting on so many others that don’t share that privilege!

There is an opportunity to influence this agenda both financially and in terms of the change required. The mix of charities and corporates also left me questioning the need for more corporate profit-making organisations/CEOs to get on board. Kerri’s story really helped put a face to the plight of so many others and provides hope that, despite many relapses, there really is a way out with the right support and culture for change!

 

Tracey Brittain, A Way Out

Funds have been donated to:

Eva Womens’ Aid
Salvation Army Middlesbrough Citadel,
A Way Out
Footprints in the Community
Trac UK
Tees Valley Together
UKRAINE – DEC APPEAL

 

The next CEO Sleepout Middlesbrough happens in March 2022 at Riverside! To get registered, drop us a line!

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