CIH Cymru sleeps out in support of 'Own Two Feet' project
Jon Barnes, Senior Events Administrator at CIH Cymru, shares his experiences of sleeping out to support Bron Afon Community Housing's 'Own Two Feet' Project
It’s 4.34am on Saturday and a gentle shower of rain has just soaked my jeans and the meagre bit of cardboard I’ve bedded down on. I’ve slept for approximately an hour and a half since the fire burned down, ending my stoking duties and any chance of putting off trying to catch forty winks on a hard floor. Now I’m blearily awake and unable to get back to sleep as the prospect of getting through my tasks for the day on such limited sleep keeps nagging at my mind.
For me this was a one-off. Taking part in Bron Afon’s Sleep Out was an eye-opener. It’s easy to empathise with the discomfort of sleeping outside, but it’s the practicalities of functioning at a normal level that really hit home. If one night out has made fairly banal weekend activities seem like looming challenges I can’t even begin to understand the difficulties faced by the growing number of young homeless people who face much more important and vital tasks after countless nights out.
As the rest of the other 40 participants begin to surface from various ad-hoc shelters around the Bron Afon Community Housing car park, discussion inevitably turns to what people will take away from the experience. Whilst the obvious conclusions about the problems faced by young homeless people emerge there’s also a strong theme of optimism from the members of the two youth groups who have been the driving force behind the event. Ranging from the basic goal of raising sponsorship funds to the trickier objective of raising awareness and understanding, it is inspiring to hear young people talk about making a positive difference in their community, something that rarely makes as many headlines as the negative portrayal of young people more frequently seen in the media.
The event, primarily driven by members of Afon Youth Forum and The Neon Youth Club, raised funds for Bron Afon’s “Own Two Feet” project; sponsorship will be put towards creating starter packs of basic and vital household items for young people securing their first tenancies, helping them maintain sustainable and independent living.
Representatives from Bron Afon Community Housing, Afon Youth Forum, The Neon Youth Club, Blaenavon, Caerphilly Prevent, Hales House and CIH Cymru all took part in the event.
Anyone interested in making a donation should call Maria Jones or Helen Clutterbuck on Freephone 0800 111 42 42 or 01633 620 111. You can also donate directly to the event in a bank or online. The ‘Afon Youth’ sort code is 40 18 36 and the account number is 81597205.