Back in March, on the Tuesday morning before the Sleep Out, and things weren’t looking good. It's hard to imagine now, but temperatures were plummeting, and heavy snow was forecast for the end of the week. The ‘Beast from the East’ was fast approaching the UK.
Initially, the Sleep Out organisers remained optimistic. “It’s snowed in previous years. It didn’t put us off then, and it won’t put us off now!” they said.
By Wednesday morning, however, circumstances had changed. The reality of the severe weather was becoming more apparent, and St John’s Ambulance were forced to withdraw medical support for the event, knowing that they would be needed elsewhere. Without this safety net, the Sleep Out couldn’t go ahead.
But that didn’t stop our intrepid fundraisers. Thirteen of them trekked to Ebenezer Church on the Friday evening, where they spent the night on the floor. (A first-hand source has told Streetwise that the heating was most certainly not turned on.) Another team (including Jon, who designs this magazine) slept in Alma Church. One brave soul even slept in his garage! We’d like to say a huge thank you to all of them, and to anyone else who ‘slept in’ to raise money for homeless people.
What about the people who had no choice but to sleep out in the snow?
When cold weather like we experienced in March is forecast, the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is activated. Part of this protocol means that additional emergency shelter is opened up across the city, including up to an extra 60 beds. Outreach teams then work day and night to bring people in from the cold. It’s not a viable long-term solution, but it does mean that no one in Bristol has to spend the night out in freezing temperatures.
Our women’s night shelter, Spring of Hope, is involved in SWEP. When the protocol is activated, Spring of Hope opens seven nights a week instead of the usual six.
Thanks to our brilliant fundraisers and your generous support, the Sleep Out (or Sleep In) raised an amazing £19,887 for homeless people in Bristol. Thank you!