Did you know 100,000 16 year olds run away for the first time each year in this country?
Childrens charity SAFE@LAST support young people aged 16 years and under who are at risk through running away in South Yorkshire. Many young people get thrown out from home or have little choice but to run away to flee violence and abuse. Many of these children end up sleeping on the streets or in other unsafe places. Each year, SAFE@LAST organise The BIG Sleepout, their sponsored rough sleep in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield that aims at raising awareness about what its like for young people who have to spend a night on the streets and to raise vital funds to help and support local vulnerable children who are at risk.
JCI Sheffield members supporting The BIG Sleepout (left to right): Hannah Bailey, Katie Jackson,
Mark Smith, Dan Senter (2013 President), Gareth Carson & Neal Stirk
“The Big sleep out was a total eye opener. Cold, Uncomfortable, and damp. I’m glad i had the great company i wouldn’t like to think of any children sleeping rough any less prepared than we were. I’ll be doing it again next year as i felt by hopefully me doing it that i could help keep children of the streets when in desperate situations. ” Neal Stirk
“This was my second year doing the SAFE@LAST Big Sleepout and is something that I feel very strongly about as I do not think it is right for children to have to sleep rough on the streets of our city/region. I am always impressed with the organisation at SAFE@LAST events and this night was no different. There is always someone on hand to ensure that you feel safe and well looked after and this carries on throughout the evening, unfortunately children that have to do this on a day-to-day basis are not as lucky.
As last year, I was unable to get a wink of sleep, however it was nice to have a group of JCI friends with me to keep me company throughout the night. This year was my first sleepout in the rain, which made me thankful for the shop fronts and the cover that they offered, however the night did stay very mild which was a blessing! When I returned to my car in the early hours of the Saturday morning to return home I felt a sense of achievement for completing it; but also felt very lucky and thankful that I never had to experience that as a young vulnerable child/teenager. It really does make you realise that the work that SAFE@LAST do it so important and vital to our community and the children that live in it”. Katie Jackson
“Sleeping rough in Rotherham really brought it home how awful it must be for children to sleep rough rather than go home. Although it wasn’t very cold the night we slept rough, it was so uncomfortable on the floor and very difficult to get a good nights sleep. There were lots of lorries as well delivering to the shops which made it difficult to sleep so sleep was very broken. I also realised how lonely it must be at night when there’s no one else around. It’s definitely made me realise what an awful experience it is to sleep rough and how difficult life must be for a child to decide that’s better than being at home”. Hannah Bailey
“This was about the ninth time I had slept rough (or at least tried to sleep) in a car park for SAFE@LAST and every year I dread having to endure the elements – cold, wind, rain, isolation really does make you think about how hard it must be for a child to ‘choose’ to spend a night on the street (or more) in favour of getting another beating at home. The difference, there was a group of us, in amongst many groups, with lots of layers of clothing and hot drinks to help us through the night. Supposing we didn’t have this. Supposing we were alone. Supposing we had to do this for several nights…as the clock reached 3am…’only 3 more hours until a hot bath and breakfast then a sleep in my warm bed for the rest of the morning’…how guilty did I feel. No child should be in this situation.” Mark Smith
If you are interested in taking part in the JCI Sheffield team sleeping rough next year, please drop Mark a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Mark Smith