For someone who has never slept out before, the prospect of spending a night outside in the cold can be quite daunting.
To help you prep for the night, here is some advice from previous participants of the LandAid SleepOut:
Thank you to Liv Ambler (St Modwen), Sarah Gunn, Marc Hill, Chris Haigh and Mark Day (TFT Consultants) for contributing to this piece.
What did you learn from the LandAid SleepOut?
“I learned how easy it is for young people to become homeless, or be put at risk of being homeless, through circumstances that are completely beyond their control. I also learned how hard it can be for people to find help. Sleeping out for one night in (relatively mild) winter conditions was tough, and it is very difficult to imagine having to face that for a prolonged period.” Marc Hill
“Just how physically and emotionally draining it is to spend even one night sleeping out in the open. I started with clean, dry, and good quality clothes so I can only imagine it’s so much harder if you’re clothes are already wet and dirty, or not well insulated. My body ached from lying on the hard floor, and the next day I felt stiff. I imagine that for rough-sleepers with any sort of health issues, the elements would make their condition deteriorate really quickly.” Liv Ambler
Before you took part in the SleepOut, what did you expect from it?
“I expected it be a long night! But other than that, I did not really know what to expect… the closest I’ve been to sleeping outside is a few nights camping in the summer. So, I didn’t think it was safe to assume a night without a tent in February was going to be comparable at all.” Liv Ambler
“I was a little uncertain what to expect before taking part. I signed up based on it being a worthy cause – and then thought about what we were doing. The night certainly met my expectations with regards to being cold, tired and uncomfortable, however; we had access to drinks, snacks and toilet facilities so it was only a fraction of the real-life experience many go through on a daily basis.” Marc Hill
Do you have a highlight from the SleepOut?
“The highlight for me was seeing my friend and colleague Emma get up at around 4am… it was so nice just to see a friendly face after hours of feeling very alone. The small act of someone making you a cup of tea and having a quiet chat with my friend felt like an absolute treat during what was a dark, cold and miserable night.” Liv Ambler
“A highlight for myself from the sleepout – was to see so many people from different organisations getting involved and creating what they thought would be warm bed for the night. It was also good to meet some people who have endured being homeless before and see how the charity has helped them.” Mark Day
Do you have a lowlight from the SleepOut?
“Yes, definitely the background noise of a city ‘asleep’. A city at night is much noisier than I thought it would be…alarms, traffic, reversing beepers, amorous foxes, you name it! And just as you finally fall asleep it gets light and the day starts again – even noisier.” Chris Haigh
“I thought I was well prepared for the cold, wearing head to toe thermals, as well as skiing trousers and a jacket. I’d bought a new sleeping bag and assumed I’d have enough layers on to keep me warm all night. I hadn’t realised that when you lie still for hours, it feels impossible to get warm at all. When I realised only half an hour in to getting into my sleeping bag I was already uncomfortably cold, my heart sank! I knew then it was going to be a long night.” Liv Ambler
How did you try to prepare for the cold?
“I prepared for the cold night by having more than one layer of clothes on including gloves and warm socks as it is better to be able to remove a layer if you get too hot. Also think ‘out of the box’ with what additional materials can help to keep you warm in the night.” Mark Day
“Many, many layers! And I dug out all of my skiing gear to wear.” Liv Ambler
Is it something you would do again?
“Absolutely, I was able to raise a good amount of money through sponsorship so for one night of discomfort, it’s definitely worth it.” Liv Ambler
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