On the 19th of March, Student Action for Refugees (STAR), Homed, and LUU Amnesty International, will hold their annual ‘Sleepout’ outside the Union building.
Volunteers will sleep outside the Union building overnight, with a range of other societies providing entertainment and support including musical performances, film screenings, and talks. The organisers hope to raise awareness and funds for their work in support of the homeless, and against poor treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.
Hayley Rundle, president of Homed, said: “I think the Sleepout is a really valuable event. There’s a safe environment, with nothing like the fear or insecurity that make rough sleeping such a serious issue. However, it’s still March: it gets very cold, and the floor is very hard! This year, we’re planning to provide breakfast and sleeping bags to support the people who stay all night. I’d encourage anyone to come and get involved – it’s a great cause, and it’s always a great event.”
According to government figures, around 15 people sleep rough in Leeds on any particular night. However, while rough sleeping is a visible and extreme form of homelessness, the issue runs far deeper. Hayley emphasised, “It’s important not to forget the ‘hidden homeless’: people ‘sofa-surfing’, or living in hostels.”
Homelessness charity Emmaus, who run a hostel in Leeds, echo this saying: “we estimate that at any one time there are several hundred people without a home in the city.”
For more details of the event, see the ‘HOMED Leeds’ Facebook page.