Since May of 2013 I’ve had the wonderful privilege of being employed by The Big Issue Foundation (a registered charity), working in the fundraising department raising funds and awareness about the incredible work that we do to support individuals across the UK to encourage and enable them to progress in their journeys’ away from homelessness.
Selling The Big Issue magazine provides some of the most excluded people in society with a unique opportunity to take some control of their lives and earn a legitimate income. However, The Big Issue Foundation was established and continues to operate in recognition of the fact that while vending the magazine often serves as a crucial first step in helping the homeless and vulnerably housed to effect and sustain an element of routine and self-discipline into their lives, they usually need more holistic, targeted support if they are to successfully (re)integrate into mainstream society.
Sleeping is very important to me, and my bed is a great luxury of mine. Whilst I am not the greatest runner or cyclist, I am a very good at sleeping (in the comfort of my own bed). So for my 2nd challenge for the Foundation, the 1st being the Santa Run (which you can sign up to in a couple weeks), I have decided to abandon this luxury and participate in The Big London Sleep Out this Friday the 7th.
The Big Sleep Out is not a full ‘homeless experience’ but it will provide an insight into what over 2,500 people in the UK face every night. Whilst this night can by no means compare to the reality of sleeping rough or living on the streets, sleeping out in the cold, on not so comfortable cardboard, with the rumbling sounds of trains overhead will prove quite a challenge to me and my comfort zone.
The evening will consist of music from the vibrant Adam Street Singers, the brilliant Glenn Hodge and Charlotte Campbell. You will have the opportunity to hear real stories about life on the streets from Big Issue vendors and how The Big Issue and Big Issue Foundation have helped to turn lives around. You will also have the opportunity to ask your own questions to the panel! All before bedding down in a Victorian railway arch for the night.
All the money raised will go towards our work in supporting vulnerable Big Issue vendors like Mick and Sean (who will also be participating from Oxford), in helping them to access the specialist support they need and bring the chaos which controls their lives in hand.