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Homelessness affects thousands of families. Estimates, and that’s all they can be, from autumn 2017, suggested that on any one night 4751 people sleep rough in the UK, according to research done by Homeless Link. G and I slept rough last night. We were very temporarily homeless. Sleeping bags and yoga mats were rolled up. I wore so many layers the chance of being be totally dehydrated by morning was significant, as indeed, was my not be able to get up to a standing position once I have laid down! This is a very different view from those previously shared, but it is one that I am committed to. This CEOSleepout was an opportunity for us to not only raise our own awareness, but perhaps the awareness of our friends, colleagues, and readers and essentially to raise funds for local homeless charities. I wanted to understand and try to empathize with the far too numerous human beings that have no home and few choices – the things that ‘willing’ G and I have taken for granted. Indeed, if you were considering Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs, we are spending one night at the bottom of the pyramid, when this blog usually demonstrates my happiness at having just about reached a near-sustained position or ‘self-actualisation’ – right at the top!
After introductions and some emotive speeches by some passionate and enduring souls, the gathered group dispersed to set up individual bases for the night.
A point made, by most speakers, is that homelessness has happened to so many people through a series of small events. For example, a man loses his driving licence. He then loses his job because he can no longer drive. Home life is damaged and his marriage breaks down. He leaves the family home. Friends can’t support him forever and he can’t afford to maintain himself, let alone his family. He becomes homeless. Such a few steps …
So, thought-provoking speeches made, teeth cleaned and final conversations had; it was time to settle down for the night. It was breezy but not bitter. G and I had two yoga mats, two cardboard boxes and a sleeping bag each (again, I remind you that I had several coats and scarves available to my person). I felt quite cosy but my mind was filled with thoughts and my body was taking it’s time to settle on the tarmac.
As I finally thought I might settle, snoring …. and then … rain! It wasn’t much, but it was enough to justify my retreat closer to a wall and underneath the eve of a stable. One consolation, the snorer under the orange plastic sheeting stopped! Then I needed a wee and tottered inside to catch up on my blog report – midnight. Returning outside the rain had stopped, the snoring had recommenced.
This next section is as I typed it into my notes ‘real-time’.
“4.16 am and I’m awakening with the birds – my first thought, why do the people who snore the loudest sleep the longest? The orange mound is still issuing the resonating sound that I unwillingly fell into time with when failing to sleep earlier. 4.22am I want another wee but it’s so cosy in here – apart from the deep ache in my hip and the restrictions my feet have in this tapered sleeping bag. Trying not to think about my bladder and adjust my position and attempt to lapse back into a sleep. My sleeping bag is wrapped tight around all parts of me; my face really feeling the cold air on it. 4.43am It’s getting lighter and I’m only just resisting the growing desire to kick the snorer in the ribs! Give me the growing chorus of dawn any day – that’s an optimistic sound, unlike the orange mound who has had such a long, sonorous sleep. I have an unreasonable dislike of the contents of that orange plastic now – perhaps it’s because I’ve had only about 2 hours sleep? I’m normally a reasonable person but right now I’m tempted to throw one of ‘sleeping’ G’s shoes at the mound. I don’t want to do it harm just yet, just disrupt it’s rhythm, hoping it may cease. Oh, a change in the morning chorus … another snorer, this time behind me. 5 am… I’m getting up now!”
I’m not saying that ‘exhausted’ G and I have changed the world, but if you’re reading this blog you may appreciate our intention to understand and help so many people who are helpless in today’s society. Our very small effort has changed our attitude and made us feel more compassionate. Organised by the ever-effervescent (even at 5 am), Bianca, I thank her for her respect and enlightenment. Perhaps readers of this blog may not walk past someone who looks distressed and homeless in the street, writing them off as a waste of space, but may consider buying them some soup to keep them going or giving to homeless charities, clothes, blankets, time or money. Please check the links on this blog out – they will lead you to inspirational people. There are people, not far from all of us, who have had their life choices reduced unbearably and it makes me sad that so many could be given the opportunity to make more right choices and climb steadily up.
You all know that I love a positive slogan. These two represent my stance on life and compassion and being a good human being. I can’t think of a more appropriate time to share them with you.
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