At 6am sharp on Friday morning our group emerged from our sleeping bags onto the chilly London streets, which marked only the halfway point of our involvement in this year’s Centrepoint event. The charity has declared its nationwide Sleep Out an “amazing success” and our FurnitureHireUK.com team were honoured to take part in the occasion for the fourth year in a row!
Straight to the office for FurnitureHireUK.com staff
Although some of us from FurnitureHireUK.com have bedded down on cold concrete for this event before, it’s still a very eye-opening and challenging experience for all of us that took part this year. There’s much we did to brace ourselves for the cold night ahead, with our team turning up dressed in lots of layers and bringing cosy sleeping bags too. This event aims to raise awareness and funding for youth homelessness, with figures from the organisation showing that a staggering 80,000 young people every year become homeless.
We look forward to doing our bit to highlight the plight of young homeless people by volunteering to Sleep Out, but this is only part of the experience, as after we emerge from our sleeping bags into the cold dawn, we all headed straight to the FurnitureHireUK.com office in London to try and carry on with our jobs as normal.
Tough challenge for our team
Doing so shows us how difficult it can be for people sleeping rough to concentrate and prepare themselves for the day ahead, when they may not have slept at all, which further shows us how important it is that homeless people get all the support they need to get back on their feet.
We join celebrities on the concrete
As well as giving us a chance to see how hard it is to sleep as temperatures drop and to then go about our daily lives with little rest, the charity lays on a packed programme of entertainment before everyone tackles the task of bedding down on cold concrete.
Some acts feature well-known faces who have had their own experiences with sleeping rough, and even though we can get involved with lots of enjoyable pastimes - including driving F1 simulators, playing giant Connect Four, ice skating and even tucking into free RAF food - the core message of raising awareness of homelessness is never forgotten.
‘Don’t give up’ urges Sonique
This year our team got to see BRIT Award winner Sonique perform and were blown away by her great stage presence and voice, that have propelled her singles into the charts, including hit track It Feels So Good. The artists revealed how she once spent two years living on the streets saying “Don’t give up on homeless people”.
Other musicians our team saw included double platinum and gold selling singer Newton Faulkner - co-writer of Dream Catch Me - giving a spectacular performance, as well as several up and coming British starlets, such as Nina Nesbitt, Olivia Sebastianelli and Kristyna Myles. Between acts celebrity presenter Lisa Maxwell and voice-of-the-X-Factor Peter Dickson helped us weather the increasingly cold night and encouraged donations - which currently number around £350,000 with more funds expected over the next few weeks.
Stories from the streets
As well as musical artists and expert ice skaters taking to the nearby rink to perform death-defying routines, we also got to hear the story of a very special guest invited on to the stage. Monique Newton told her emotional story of how she survived a diagnosis of terminal cancer before her fifth birthday, but then became homeless at age 15.
After hitting rock bottom at only 16-years old, this driven young woman - now 21 - turned her life around to become the World Powerlifting Champion, with the help of Centrepoint - showing how instrumental the charity can be in rebuilding the lives of young people affected by homelessness. As Christopher Biggins soared on to the ice on a sleigh to read us all a bedtime story, it’s this important message we all took with us as we zipped up our sleeping bags waiting for our 6am siren call the following morning.
Support from FurnitureHireUK.com
If you’d like to donate for this fantastic event then feel free to visit our JustGiving page that’s still active! At FurnitureHireUK.com we aim to highlight the work of charities and help out where we can. DON'T FORGET: Check out our pictures on our Facebook page!