In December one of our dedicated fundraisers Matt; a Flight Sergeant and Air Traffic Control Trainer at RAF Shawbury, organised a Sleepout for his colleagues and friends to show solidarity and fundraise for those experiencing homelessness. He chose to support Barnabus and a local shelter in Shrewsbury with this sponsored event.

Our head of fundraising Carol was invited to join in the Sleep Out, she would like to extend a heartfelt thank you on behalf of Barnabus to Matt and everyone who took part and generously donated. She writes “We see rough sleepers coming into our Drop-in; utterly exhausted, wet, cold and without hope after trying to sleep on the streets in unsafe and life affecting conditions. Taking part in this sleep out; although only for one night brought me to tears as I realised how they must feel, it made me more determined than ever, to do everything we can to get those on the street into a home."

Matt has put his experience of the night into words and we would like to share them with you.

Matt will also be taking part in both the Manchester Marathon and Hadrian’s Wall Marathon in 2020 so please consider donating to his fundraising page

"On Saturday the 7th December 2019, an incredible team of volunteers took part in the RAF Shawbury Big Sleep Out. It was cold, wet and extremely windy but everyone still turned up to take part. We had decided as a group that we wanted a degree of reality for the event, so we allowed a sleeping bag and/or waterproof liner to be used along with cardboard to create some kind of shelter or substitute mattress.

As the organiser of the event, I didn’t really know how the night would pan out or what we would take away from it. The obvious intention of any charity event is to raise money but for the sleep out, it was more than that. I wanted to send a message out to the homeless people of Shrewsbury and Manchester - personnel at RAF Shawbury care about you.

I find it difficult to give an example of people who need help more than the homeless. I’m sure someone reading this might have an answer, but I couldn’t find one. In many cases they literally have nothing. Worse than having nothing, the majority of people in public walk straight past them and fail to even acknowledge that they exist.

I have always been hesitant to give homeless people money because you have no control over how they spend it. If they have a drug or alcohol addiction and are given money, they are potentially now in a vulnerable position. Because of this, I used to walk past and at times ignore the fact they were asking for help but not anymore. I either go and say hello and apologise for having no change or if I have time and there is a shop nearby, I will go and buy them a hot drink and/or a snack. The thing that always stands out to me is this – whether you give them something or not, the response is nearly always the same – thank you for stopping to talk to me.

Carol Price, head fundraiser from Barnabus in Manchester, came and took part in the sleep out. She gave us a brief as part of the evening which was absolutely eye opening and equally heart breaking. She explained to us that a £5 donation would pay for someone’s first visit to their drop-in. They could have some hot food, have a shower, brush their teeth and receive clothes. She explained that you could physically see when a little bit of hope had returned to people, that suddenly their head was lifted a little higher, maybe a smile would appear. You only have to look at that list of things to realise we probably all take them for granted but to some; it can restore hope to their life for a new start.

After the brief, we all headed outside for a chat as people started to find their sleeping areas. Out of 20 volunteers, nearly half were under the age of 18 and not a single complaint came from any of them. I think their participation was my favourite part of the event and I thank their parents for their involvement.

The next 8 hours were uncomfortable to say the least. It rained heavily for the 1st few hours with wind gusts reaching 40 mph. The water proof liner for my sleeping bag was like a crisp packet so it made loads of noise as it rustled in the wind. These factors meant that I never really managed to fall asleep which left me feeling very groggy and slow in the morning. After cleaning up the sleep area and throwing away the soggy cardboard, I felt very lucky to return home. I certainly appreciated the hot shower and food of my choice a little more than usual.

I would like to thank every one who took part and of course, every single donation that we received."