It is something that should never happen, but through the work we do, we meet, speak to and hear about ex-military personnel who have lived or are living on the street.
Whilst we support servicemen and women by defending their rights, we also work with charities who are there for them when they fall on hard times.
On Friday 2 February 2018, we recruited 14 employees from our Southampton office to participate in Alabare’s BIG Sleep. Christie Fitzgerald, a paralegal from our Military team took part in the sleepover and takes up the story.
Alabare is a charity based in Sailsbury that supports homeless, vulnerable and marginalised people, including members of the veterans community. They help to transform their lives, providing accommodation and enabling them to gain the skills, confidence and opportunities to live a fulfilled life.
To show support, raise awareness and fundraise for the charity we took part in their BIG Sleep, which is now in its 12th year, giving people a small insight of what it is like to call the streets home.
The event was hosted by Sailsbury Cathedral and for the first time well behaved dogs were invited to attend to keep their owners company (and warm). This included the new Alabare mascot, Rufus, a big dog walking around supporting the event and offering warming hugs to anyone who needed one.
The event involved over 200 fundraisers sleeping on the cold concrete floors of Sailsbury Cathedral Cloisters, wearing lots and lots of layers. This year the guests included MP John Glen and local schools, colleges and charities. Our team were the first to the Cathedral at 8pm meaning we got first dibs on where to set up our strips of cardboard, mats and sleeping bags for the evening. Full of excitement and enthusiasm for the night ahead we could barely feel the cold at this point.
At 10pm we were given a safety briefing and introduced to Jamie, a young man who went to Alabare when his life had fallen apart and he was left with nothing. The exceptionally moving story put into perspective just what the charity can do and how important our, and others, support is to everyone they help.
By this point it felt as if the temperature had dropped significantly and we were all getting even colder, even thicker with layers of clothing, and feeling very grateful for the free tea and coffee being provided throughout the night. It was lights out at around 11.30pm and everyone tried to go to sleep. This was now the final stretch before we could go home and we were eternally grateful for the roof over our head and central heating. The temperature dropped to 1°c in the night, but it felt so much colder. Wrapped in at least five layers of clothing, sleeping bags, and blankets we could all still feel the cold breeze of the night, and hear a couple of barking dogs, who were obviously not too impressed with their owners.
Everyone in our team completed the challenge and survived 23 hours out in the cold and in the process gained an insight into how difficult life must be on the streets.
We were delighted to successfully raise £2,370 for Alabare, who do such an amazing job helping to support homeless veterans who should not be on the street in the first place.
Published: May 2018
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