Will Forster & Sean Henry talk about our Sleep Out 2018

Will Forster & Sean Henry talk about our Sleep Out 2018

Posted on: 16 October 2018 in

Mayor of Woking Will Forster and YRP Patron Sean Henry took part in YRP Sleep Out 2018 and have written about their experience of the night.

I was pleased to join staff from the York Road Project, and volunteers from the local community at the Project’s ‘Sleep Out’ on the streets of Woking. Spending Saturday night and Sunday morning on the streets with only a sleeping bag and some cardboard was a useful insight of what it is like to be a rough sleeper - it was very cold, noisy and uncomfortable - and I did it for just one night.

It was difficult to sleep with street lights shining in my face, uncomfortable to lay on my side on concrete and I was regularly woken up when party goers left nearby bars and clubs in Woking - I managed to sleep, just.

I cannot even begin to imagine what it is like to have to do this night after night, that is exactly why I am supporting the York Road Project to help homeless people get back on their feet.

Will Forster, Mayor of Woking

 

The Sleep Out event in Woking on September 29th was much more thought provoking than I expected.

Yes, it was cold and uncomfortable, but what I hadn’t expected was how invisible you suddenly become when you decide to lie on the street in a sleeping bag.

Despite there being quite a few of us, people walking by hardly noticed our presence. Sadly however, we were not invisible enough to avoid encounters with people out drinking, the first of which was at about 9.30pm and the last at 5.30am. The worst of it was when the nightclubs closed at 3/3.30 am. It was chaotic – people fighting and arguing, people milling around obviously drunk, a few wandering off to being sick, others snogging, and all of them almost oblivious to the 20+ of us lying on cardboard literally on the other side of the street. It took 45 minutes for most of them to leave (and felt like 2 hours) and the police only turned up at the end. The YRP staff handled the situation very calmly (or appeared to!) and I stayed in my sleeping bag. Even in a group it felt quite edgy & nerve wracking – to been there on your own would have been extremely difficult. It really brought home to me the reality of sleeping rough: you would be tired, scared, cold, uncomfortable, vulnerable and most likely awake. 

Add to this perhaps hunger, nowhere to wash, nothing to eat, and an awareness of the rubbish and detritus around you (we were near a 24hr McDonalds outlet) and the rats. You would become ill.

So…….even more reason to support the tremendous work of the YRP, and to try and bring the numbers of rough sleepers in our area down to zero.

This week’s news from The  Bureau of Investigative Journalism of that over 449 homeless people died in the UK last year has made me realise  that this crisis needs addressing now, and could not be more serious.

Sean Henry, Sculptor and YRP Patron