On Saturday 7th December, 8 of the team including Brian, Adrian, Neil, Fiona, Letitia, Simon, Alana and Kimberley slept out as part of the World's Big Sleep Out in aid of homelessness.
What was forecasted as rain for the full day, for once did not disappoint (typical...). Simon shares his account of the sleep out in Edinburgh.
But wait! Remember it's not over yet as fundraising is still open until Christmas Eve and we need your help to reach our goal of £5000!
Donate here and read the story...
So Saturday rolls around. But not a standard Saturday. The Saturday where we are going to the Big Sleep Out. Where we are sleeping “rough” for a night. We meet at the office mid afternoon for the trip. Travel together in solidarity. Bravado about the night ahead belies the worries as we look at the forecast. Arrive and gather our team. Bite to eat before we start the event. Starting to imagine the night ahead. Real for the first time. Back to the cars and pick up our kit. Through the gate and get searched bag by bag. No alcohol. Reduces the blood temperature. Risk of hypothermia. And in solidarity with those suffering addiction.
Find our area. Wristbands applied as we look forlornly at our pitch. Tarpaulin covered ground beneath a tree. Pack the kit into our survival bags. The ground is littered with everyone’s gear. Bright orange against the darkness. Looking like a quarantine zone. Chat through the plans. Bravado fading. Off to the concert ahead of the first act. Introduction by Brian Cox. Importance of our fundraising impressed upon us. Music and poems from various artists. Uplifting songs and truthful lyrics. As we stand there the rain starts. Not heavy, just constant. Easier to imagine the night ahead now.
Off to get chips. And a hot drink. Getting some final warmth before returning to the concert. Final songs being played. Bedtime story from Gregor Fisher. Children’s story about the Polar Express. Boy asking Santa for a silver bell. Then it’s off to bed. Rain still falling. Hilarity as people pile into survival bags. Struggling not to fall over. Then tucked down for the night. Hat pulled down. Hood pulled up. Phone my wife and wish her night, night. “Keep warm.” I’ll try. Phone away. Huddle down at foot height. Not a fan. At all. Feet going by make me flinch. Face too near danger. Hadn’t considered that much before.
Now hunkered down. Each on their own. Shutting your eyes against the glare from the lights. Shutting ears against the toilet doors banging. We’re lucky though. Facilities some people don’t have tonight. Or any night. Try to get some kip. Nod off around midnight. Woken occasionally by feet passing by. Crunching on the tarp. Too close for comfort. Wake up at two. Proper awake. Pull the sleeping bag up. Slide down into the bag. Legs and back ache already. Not used to being hunched up all night. Thank my lucky stars this isn’t my daily experience. Have more of a realisation about what this could be. Daily worries about being dry. Being warm. Whether you’ll eat today. It’s a dark hour in the middle of the night.
Then the storm hits. It’s half three. The wind is up. Trees shaking above and around us. Swaying wildly. And the rain. Torrential. Bouncing off the mat by my face. Off the surrounding ground. Thundering in my ears off the survival bag mere millimetres away. Scrunch myself smaller. Escape into the bag. Watch the storm batter the orange lumps around me. Each facing their own demons in the darkness. At least I’m warm. Thank God I’m dry. Really start to understand. The mental fortitude that living like this must require. What it can drive you to do.
Woken by a shout of my name. We’re going. Pack up. Stand up. It’s cold but I’m not complaining. We’re going home. To central heating. Warm beds. Water on tap and food in the fridge. There’s a look in everyone’s eyes. It’s relief. That it’s over. That this isn’t our lives. Thankful. There’s a dawn chorus. But not of birdsong. Of rustling plastic as people escape their orange cocoons. And return to their lives. But with a greater realisation of what these people endure. Daily.
Together, we can end homelessness with the Social Bite's global movement. Remember to donate on our team page if you haven't already. We have reached 54% of our £5000 goal because of your support, thank you!
Donate to support the team and the global cause here: http://bit.ly/2QVSs3g