It’s very apt that this week’s photo challenge this is home. I’ve been very lucky in my life. Wherever I have been in the world, I have always had a safe, warm place to go home to at the end of the day, even if that has sometimes just been a friend’s sofa. There has only been one night in my life that I have had to sleep out on the streets through no choice of my own. When I was working in Brant Lake, New York for the summer, two friends and I decided to skip curfew and stay out in Lake George for a few extra drinks. We thought we would be able to rent a hotel room for the night where we could crash until we were able to catch the bus back to our camp the next morning. Unfortunately, there were no rooms available in the whole town. We walked EVERYWHERE asking for a room, at one point I even begged a hotel manager to let us sleep on his office floor. But alas, there was nothing anyone could do to help us. As the town shut down for the night, we were left stranded out on the street with nothing but our clothes, which were definitely not suitable for nighttime temperatures. We decided the local park would be the best place to try and rest our heads for the night, but that turned out to be a rookie mistake. As soon as the sun started to rise we realised that the whole park was covered in dew, which had soaked through all our clothes and made us feel even colder. By 5.45am we were waiting outside the doors of the pancake restaurant for it to open. My one night on the streets was horrible, I never want to have to go through anything like it again, and I don’t know how some people do it night after night.
My experience in Lake George is one of the reasons that I have decided to take part in the YMCA Sleep Easy Challenge 2013. Myself and over 100 other people are going to sleep out under the stars in Cardiff for one night to raise awareness of homelessness in the city, and to raise funds for the charity. Last year was the first event of it’s kind held in Cardiff, 49 people took part and raised an average of £100 each. This year, they have space for 150 people. If we can raise the same as they did last year, the YMCA will be able to keep an emergency room open in one of their hostels for another year. We have some terrible weather here in the UK, particularly during the cold winters, and the emergency rooms provide vulnerable people with shelter for the night. For every night we have adverse weather, that room can potentially save a life.
Think of me on Friday 8th March, and send me warm thoughts! I promise I’ll let you know how the event goes as soon as the feeling has returned to my hands and I can type! If you would like to sponsor me, please click here to be redirected to my sponsorship page.