City folks sleep out so young people don't have to
- Credit: The Benjamin Foundation
More than 100 people wrapped up warm against the elements to sleep out so young, vulnerable people don't have to.
The city's annual Sleep Out event organised by the Benjamin Foundation saw 120 people sleep under the stars on Friday.
The group were raising funds to end youth homelessness and get more people into independent housing - with the problem only getting more complex because of the pandemic.
Saffron Housing Trust was one of the teams taking part in the sleep out.
So far they have raised over £850 with chief executive James Francis saying: “As an organisation, like The Benjamin Foundation we play an important role in preventing people becoming homeless, and having ten colleagues participating in this evening’s Sleep Out is our small way of raising awareness of the challenges many young people face today.”
James continued: “When you are fortunate enough to have a nice home to sleep in, getting just a sample of what it might be like to not have that foundation in life is a real eye-opener.”
The Benjamin Foundation said the Sleep Out's aim is not to replicate what it is like to be" lonely, frightened and vulnerable", but it does give participants a small glimpse of some of the challenges homeless people may face while being an important fundraiser.
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Donna Williamson was taking part in her first Sleep Out and said: “I’ve always supported charities.
"I can’t imagine any of my children sleeping on the streets. One night doesn’t put me out. It’s a really good experience and it always amazes me what people do for charity. Along with colleagues, I’ve raised over £300.”
Event manager, Jessica Glover, explained where the funds raised will go: “Money raised at Sleep Out enables us to do even more to help local vulnerable young people when they need us the most, supporting them to create the building blocks to successful, independent living.
"This has a huge impact on local young lives.
“We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who spent one night outside last night and to all those who supported the event to help more local young people to finally feel hopeful of a better future.”
What is the rough sleeping situation in Norwich?
Every night the Benjamin Foundation accommodates 100 vulnerable young people in Norfolk and Suffolk.
That equates to more than 40,000 safe nights of sleep for those people every year.
The Benjamin Foundation has also seen more than 150 people contact them every week for wellbeing support.
In the last year this means 7,500 emotional wellbeing support sessions have been carried out with the aim of improving the mental health of people they work with.
Overall this means that over 2,000 children and young people in Norfolk and Suffolk are given the skills and support they need to start working towards a better future.
The Benjamin Foundation has been operating in Norwich for more than 25 years and employs more than 220 people across Norfolk and Suffolk.