Students swapped their beds for sleeping bags to raise money and awareness for homeless young people.
While the “sleep in” at Plymouth Argyle Football Club didn’t aim to replicate homelessness, it gave the students an insight into the challenges faced by those sleeping rough.
The idea was founded by a group of young people aged 16 – 18 years old on the National Citizen Service youth board. The board is made up of graduates who have taken part in the programme previously and remain engaged to continue to build their CV, increase their network within their local community and work towards gaining work experience and employment.
The students were inspired to take action to help the homeless after volunteering with local charities as part of an NCS programme run by Argyle Community Trust. 15 young people took part in the campaign, working with a number of other charities including Shelter, Shekinah and The Samaritans.
Assistant Community Manager Dwain Morgan, who also took part in the sleep in with five other Trust staff members, said it had been wonderful to see the students’ commitment: “They were all very moved by the scale of homeless people when they volunteered as part of the NCS programme and wanted to do something practical to help.
“They have done a fantastic amount of personal fundraising to collect money to provide essentials for the homeless, as well as £200 in-store credit from Aldi to help towards creating “comfort packs” that will be delivered to the city-wide soup run points.”
The students were kept busy throughout the night, working alongside the Community Trust staff dropping off care packages to the city’s homeless charities as well as hearing from people who were once homeless.
“You see it a lot [of homelessness] in Plymouth and many people don’t know what to do to help. We wanted to expand our minds and other people’s minds of those who are homeless,” explained student Abby Wills, “People just assume about why someone is homeless and don’t take time to learn the real reasons.”
The keynote speaker explained the risks and pathways to homelessness, including links to drug/alcohol usage and mental health awareness, but also other incidents that many people rarely realise.
The Trust’s NCS Programme Manager, Todd Hanrahan said: “For me going through the experience it’s allowed me to recognise the different ways of being homeless and it’s more than what you see on the streets. It really can happen to anyone, not always due to drugs and alcohol abuse but often break up in relationships, loss of job, bereavement or military discharge.”
“We’re really proud of the students, it wasn’t easy but that’s the point. I’d like to say a big thanks to the Club, we had Derek Adams come in to speak to the young people and congratulate them on the project, which really lifted spirits as well as all the ground staff making sure we were all safe for the night.”
The Club also donated all unsold food from Saturday’s match day against Charlton to be included in the soup run packages.
Special thanks to Dwain Morgan, Sam Barton, Dan Hart, Mickey McCloskey as well as all the Plymouth Argyle Football Club staff for supporting the project.