Over 100 people, including the Leeds Rhinos squad and Miss Leeds 2018, braved the chill at the Big Sleep 2018 to raise money for vulnerable people.
The event, a joint venture between St. George’s Crypt, St. Gemma’s Hospice and the Leeds Rhinos foundation was organised to raise money to provide vital services for vulnerable people in the community.
After an introduction by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Graham Latty, the evening began with each organization presenting a short video highlighting the work each does in the community and was a sombre reminder for all those attending of the importance of fundraising events such as these and of the vital work organizations like St. George’s Crypt does every day.
Afterward, the fundraisers took part in a quiz and socialized before heading outside for the night. We had a chance to speak to those taking part and hear some of the reasons why they were there before they bedded down for the night in the stands of Headingley stadium. A fundraiser, Arif, who raised over £6,000 said ‘’I’m shocked by how many more people you see on the streets, sleeping rough and I can’t imagine what that must be like’’ adding ‘’ one night here was tough enough, but it is a reminder of how fortunate we all are’’.
This was a recurrent theme among the people we spoke to throughout the evening. And indeed, the figures are worrying. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported earlier this year a 20% increase in the number of people sleeping on the streets in Leeds since 2016, and the paper’s editor, Hannah Thaxter was also one of those taking part in the event and will cover the event for the regional paper.
Also, among the participants were representatives from Waterloo Manor, a women’s mental health and rehabilitation centre based in Garforth, who raised over £2,000. Fundraiser Charlotte also explained her reasons for taking part, saying ‘’A lot of our clients will experience homelessness and poverty at some point during their lives, so we know how important it is to support organisations like the crypt’’.
The evening was a great success and so far over £30K has been raised.
St. George’s crypt would like to thank everyone who helped to organize the event, those who slept outside and everyone who donated to a great cause. We hope to see you at the Big Sleep 2019!