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On 27 February 2020, five colleagues braved a night out in the cold at the LandAid SleepOut in London, alongside 300+ other industry professionals.

Elizabeth Canning, Fran Mochrie, Jenna Bennett, Nina Reeve and Sam Richardson arrived at the Oval at 8pm armed with their sleeping bags, thermal clothing and an eagerness to help LandAid’s mission of ending youth homelessness.

During registration, they were given two large boxes each and a LandAid gift bag containing a foldable cup for hot drinks, a hat and a phone charger. They then went into the main stadium to choose a spot to kip for the night.

After heading back into the main entrance for some networking over a hot drink or two, it was time to hear from Paul Morrish, CEO at LandAid, Fiera Real Estate (who were the sponsors of the night) and George O’Neil, CEO of the Cardinal Hume Centre.  George spoke about the importance of providing safe homes for young homeless people and how the money raised will support this.

Around 10pm everyone went back to the stadium and to their chosen spots to settle down for the night.

Although the SleepOut did not replicate sleeping rough, it did give participants an idea of the harsh realities faced by many young people. Here’s what some of our participants had to say about the experience.

Nina: “The experience has massively opened my eyes to how difficult sleeping rough must be for someone. For me, attempting to sleep outside for one night, in much better conditions and in a safe environment was really difficult. So I can’t even begin to imagine how terrible it must be for someone facing homelessness. I feel very lucky and grateful to have a place to call home.“

Elizabeth: “When I woke up the next morning, I realised that I managed to get around five hours of sleep so wasn’t feeling too bad. However, as the day went on, I became more and more tired, which made me realise that the quality of sleep, had probably been poor. Subconsciously I must have been aware that I wasn’t in the safety of a locked home and was somewhat exposed. That’s when it hit me; what I had experienced the night before was in no way a true reflection of what a homeless person must experience. I was not going to be attacked, I was not going to have my things stolen and I was not going to be woken up and moved along. I had a ridiculously warm sleeping bag, and I had a home to go back to the next day. It has really opened my eyes wider and I will take a lot away from that night.”

Sam: “I was keen to get involved in this event because it’s a cause close to my heart. Around eight years ago, I became one of the ‘hidden homeless’ through some unfortunate circumstances. The SleepOut brought home what I could have faced had I not been lucky enough to have people around me that could help me get back on my feet. I’m pleased that I took part and look forward to getting more involved with LandAid.”

The team have raised almost £2,000 contributing to the £310,000+ raised for the LandAid SleepOut series. Every penny raised will support local homeless charities in Birmingham, Bristol and London.