A group of young people aged 16 and 17 years took part in a 12-hour ‘rough’ sleep in Bournemouth town centre on 11 November to highlight the need to help homeless people, especially during the winter months, and also to raise money for BCHA’s James Michael House property, which is home to up to 11 homeless young people
BCHA is a specialist housing provider helping homeless and vulnerable people access the right housing, health, learning and work opportunities. The group of young people were taking part in the BCHA-led National Citizen Service (NCS) and the challenge was a simulated version of a night on the streets. The group was woken up and moved on every few hours – like many homeless people are each night – and they walked many miles throughout the night.
Rachael Cheney, BCHA’s NCS Staff member, said, “On the actual night they spent most of the time in a church car park and the NCS staff played different roles throughout the night, including a police officer moving the group on. They spent some time in the local woods in West Moors, to help them understand the loneliness and separation some homeless people might experience. They were all fantastic and made the most of the challenge we set for them. They were so pleased when we played the role of a good Samaritan at around 3am and invited them in to the church for a hot drink and a donut.”
Bournemouth-based organisation BCHA, which helps homeless and vulnerable people access the right housing, health, learning and work opportunities, is the largest provider of NCS in the Poole and Bournemouth area. Last year 193 NCS graduates volunteered 5,730 hours and raised over £3,500 for local community projects.
One of the young participants said, “The young people managed to raise £700 and this money will go towards redecorating James Michael House in Bournemouth. This property provides housing for homeless young people in Bournemouth, the young people were particularly passionate about this cause due to the residents being of a similar age. Any leftover donations will be used to give the residents a well needed activity day out.”
Rachael Cheney, NCS Staff member, added, “I was overwhelmed by how dedicated the team were in helping homeless young people in their area. When asked why they were so passionate they said it was because it could happen to them at any point and they were still lucky enough to be at home.
We tried to make the experience as realistic as possible by first working through a Homes for Cathy education workbook, which was produced to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Cathy Come Home. We got them to think about different scenarios that could lead them to being made homeless and how they could overcome them. They also learnt about what being homeless really meant, to break any stereotypes they may have had.
Another NCS participant, Harry Batson, summarised his experience by saying, “What we, as NCS graduates, have achieved has truly made a difference to lives and is one of the best things I have ever done. I have definitely changed as a person for the better thanks to this course, and I fully encourage young people to also take part. So worth it!”
Donations are still being taken, please contact the team to find out more. 01202 410550 or email@example.com