My Sleep out

There was about 60 -100 of us who were armed with sleeping bags, cardboard boxes, sweets, chocolates, woolly hats, gloves and uncertainty. We didn’t know what to expect or what the evening would bring but all in all there was no rain and the streets were pretty quiet. We brazed the sub-zero temperature through the night to finish the sponsored event which is a bunch of people sleeping outside for an evening to raise money for different charities who work with the homeless.

This is an annual event and it helps generate awareness regarding homelessness. Alan Goddard, manager of the Wild Goose Cafe which helps homeless people every day, (I was raising money for this charity) believes raising awareness is more important this year than ever before. "Homelessness is getting a lot worse," he said. "The cuts mean government-funded centres are being shut without a second thought, and so charities such as ours need to provide extra support. When the sleepers wake up tomorrow morning they'll be cold and aching, but tomorrow night they'll go back to their beds. For homeless people it is hell every night."

Jonathan Swithinbank, from Crisis Centre Ministries, said: "When you experience something from someone else's point of view you empathise more with their circumstances. The stereotypical view of homeless people being 'bums' and 'junkies' is quickly eroded when you realise how noisy, smelly and cold sleeping on the streets is."

It was really amazing that I was able to do such a sponsored event and it had much impact on me. Since my first year at University, I had in my prayer diary to always pray for the poor in Bristol and I knew not how to help practically. This last year I have been able to help at the wild goose café and to sleep out for the night was another step in being able to help the poor.

My day began with a firm assurance that I had everything I needed for the sleep out; a sleeping bag and a bivvy bag was given to me by members of my church and I had sufficient blankets and gloves to keep me warm. I was picked up round 8:30 and got to our venue at about 9:30. We chatted and then took a group photo for the media before we commence in laying out our beds. My bed consisted of a cardboard box, my sleeping bag, bivvy bag and some blankets with me wrapped up inside safe and warm. There were couple of other students from my church of which it was a privilege and joy to share floor spaces with and we chatted for most of the night. A couple of us did a bit of bible study with intervals of soup and chocolate. We prayed also and as the night went by sleep became a necessity. I slept at 5:00 in the morning and woke up at around 6, I listened to revelations on my mp3. We woke up in the morning and all around us some were already packing to leave and some stayed to have a bacon sandwich. It was refreshing to wake out in the streets but I was glad that I would be returning to my warm bed. This experience has hammered home to me the difficulty of sleeping out on the streets and the many health dangers that comes with it. We had some St John’s ambulance volunteers on duty who stayed up all night to assure us of our safety and to dispatch any medical treatment if need. The homeless are not so fortunate.

I would like to thank all of you who prayed and supported me. I exceeded my target which was £500 and managed to raise over £700 including gift aid. It’s not to late to sponsor me and you can donate via my just giving page: http://www.justgiving.com/Ken-Oni. Truly as the apostle Paul says ‘I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength’.

K.Oni

quotes taken from http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/news/Volunteers-sleep-streets-raise-funds-homeless/article-3297716-detail/article.html

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