BCL Director and co-founder, Vicky Clark, details the Manchester Sleepout 2019
With the help of clients, family and friends, BCL Legal has raised over £4,500 for the Booth Centre. Thank you to everyone who donated. For those who haven't and would like to, it's not too late. Donate via our Just Giving page here.
On the 8th November, a cohort from BCL joined 400 others to ‘sleep out’ on the ‘streets’ of Manchester. With the aim of doing something significant to raise more funds and awareness for everything the wonderful team at the Booth Centre do to help vulnerable people in the community. The event provides the majority of funds the centre needs to operate for a period of 12 months. (The 2018 Sleepout raised over £140,000!)
BCL Legal Director and co-founder, Vicky Clark, details the Manchester Sleepout 2019.
Rain, hail or shine
It didn’t rain, but at the time, it was the coldest night of Autumn 2019 (-1 overnight). We pitched our cardboard and sleeping bags at 8 p.m. before talks and performances commenced inside the Manchester Cathedral.
Most BCL employees based in the Manchester office have spent at least a day volunteering at the centre so it was lovely for us to see so many familiar faces on the night: workers, volunteers and people who use the centre regularly.
Amanda Croome (Booth Centre CEO) spoke in detail about the homelessness crisis, which, unfortunately, is all too easy for people to ignore. Amanda highlighted some alarming statistics that will stay with us forever.
Although we’re the fifth richest country in the world, we’re still unable to provide the most basic need of shelter to our people. Life on the streets is only half a life with the average life expectancy of rough sleepers being 42. Knowing that there are people sleeping rough who on Friday and Saturday nights get their worldly possessions stolen or are woken up to being kicked by drunk passers-by is truly heart-breaking. The myriad reasons why people can end up in this situation are mind blowing. Every person tells a different story. The numbers are rising despite Andy Burnham’s pledge to end homelessness by 2022 and £3m spent on temporary accommodation in B&Bs in Manchester.
Utterly surreal, and certainly not the life of a rough sleeper.
Time for 'bed'
The night was serious, we found our pitch outside the Cathedral, it was dark and there was no party, no alcohol, and eerily, very little noise until the early hours. It was cold and you felt it inside your bones. We, of course, had extreme sleeping bags, portable loos and tea and coffee on tap as well as volunteers on security duty to ensure we were safe. At 5:30 a.m. we woke up to a hot sausage sandwich, a photoshoot and a certificate - utterly surreal, and certainly not the life of a rough sleeper.
Providing all the support and time we can to the centre has left an indelible print on the lives of many BCLers. We feel humbled and privileged to be involved. As one of the supporters on Friday told us, it’s bittersweet because in an ideal world the centre wouldn’t exist.
So far, we’ve raised over £4,500 and every penny from the night goes straight to the centre with no intermediary and no other agenda than to feed and support people into jobs and homes of their own; increasing confidence and independence along the way.
Next year marks the Booth Centre’s 25th anniversary and the 10th Manchester Sleepout. There’s no doubt we’ll be doing it again. If you’d like to join us in raising much needed funds and awareness, for an increasingly important cause, reach out to the centre.