Sleeping under the stars in wintry weather is just what John Glenton, Riverside’s Executive Director for Care and Support, will be doing next month to raise money to help homeless people in Manchester.
Joining him at Old Trafford cricket ground will be senior employees from other organisations. Here, John shares his thoughts on why it’s important to support the cause…
On the 16 October I will be taking part in the CEO Sleepout and spending one night sleeping outdoors to raise awareness of the growing homeless epidemic. By no means will I experience what it is truly like to sleep rough. However, as the Executive Director of Care and Support for Riverside – who are the third largest provider of homelessness services in the UK – it is a small gesture at a time when the services we provide have never been needed more.
Rough sleeping has more than doubled in the past six years across England, and is more visible on our streets than I ever remember. When most of us walk past rough sleepers, do we ever stop to think about their story and what it is like being homeless?
I recently met a group of former rough sleepers who were living in one of our schemes in Manchester. They shared some of their experiences with me, which included passers by kicking them when they were trying to sleep, urinating on them and verbally abusing them.
Research has found that the average life expectancy for a rough sleeper is 47-years-old. On average they are six times more likely to attend A&E, are admitted to hospital four times as often and stay three times as long as those that aren’t homeless. So it is really important for me to highlight the issue of rough sleeping and raise money for Church Housing Trust (CHT) – the charity which raises funds on Riverside’s behalf to support our customers.
CHT fundraise to support our Street Buddies, an outreach service that’s led by people with lived experience of homelessness and rough sleeping. The peer-led outreach service helps entrenched rough sleepers off the streets by supporting and rehousing them. Our volunteers and workers build trusting relationships with no set timeframe and aim to inspire positive change, using their experience of homelessness to connect with rough sleepers. CHT also provide funding for customer packs which contain warm hats, scarves and gloves, toiletries and personal hygiene items to give out to people sleeping rough.
Last year Riverside worked with 11,000 people across the country who were homeless or at risk of homelessness, supporting 5,000 to move into permanent accommodation and 800 into employment.
We want to do more, so I am hoping that people will support my efforts to raise funds for CHT by visiting my Just Giving page here.