Virtual sleepout is estimated to raise £30,000 for homeless

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Early indications reveal that a mammoth £30,000 has been donated towards the homeless from last weekend’s ‘The Big SleepOut’ organised by Birmingham charity, St. Basils.

The virtual sleepout started last Friday evening and ended on Saturday morning with many activities including live stargazing, music, short films and a hand shadow show.

Although the event happens on the grounds of the Birmingham cathedral each year, it was moved to the virtual domain and live-streamed via twitch due to the national lockdown.

St Basils supports over 5000 young people aged 16 to 25 every year and focuses on preventing homelessness by providing accommodation and employability training.

Despite being online, over 200 people joined in from their homes and gardens to raise awareness about homelessness in the city.

Head of fundraising and communications, Barrie Hodge said that early indications reckon they reached £30,000 worth of donations.

“When the pandemic initially hit, we had to cancel all of our fundraising events which was a £400,000 hit to us. Although the amount is nowhere near that, it still has been fantastic considering all that is going on,” Barrie told Birmingham Eastside.

The event was also joined by Amjad Thekkath, a 23-year-old student from Walsall. He said the event made him very conscious about the struggles rough sleepers face, especially in the winter.

“I heard about this event from my friend and I decided to join from my garden. It was a very thought-provoking experience and I’m glad that I did it. The thought of someone sleeps like this every day is really upsetting to me and now I want to do something about it,” he mentioned while speaking to Birmingham Eastside.

Birmingham recorded around 52 rough sleepers in 2019 according to Birmingham City Council.

Cllr Sharon Thompson, Cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods also joined this event along with Andy Street, the mayor of West Midlands.

Cllr Sharon Thompson

“The state of homelessness and rough sleeping is improving in the city, but Covid-19 brings more challenges in terms of housing and employability, especially to young people. That is why I’m taking part to raise awareness about this issue,” Sharon said.

“Homelessness is not just about rough sleeping. There are a lot of other factors which play up to it and that is why raising awareness is vital.

We just do it for one night, but there are lots of people who go through this every night which we need to raise more awareness about,” Andy said while speaking at the virtual event.

The sleepout last year brought in a staggering £140,000 in donations, the largest total ever in the event.

More information on how to donate can be found here

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