Emmaus companions are leading a Big Sleep Out to raise awareness of rough sleeping in the UK and are calling on supporters to join them to raise funds and build understanding.

On February 1 companions, people with lived experience of homelessness, will brave the winter weather to spend the night outside. For people who have experienced homelessness, particularly street homelessness, choosing to hold a sleep out is a big decision. But companions felt it was an important and powerful way of raising awareness of the rising numbers of people forced to sleep rough on the UK’s streets.

Emmaus communities across the UK are getting involved, with groups of companions, staff and volunteers camping out in their local area.

A place to feel safe

Steve, from Emmaus Dover, helps to provide wellbeing outreach to people who sleep rough. Each week, Steve and some fellow companions travel to nearby Folkestone to give out food, drinks, clothing and toiletries to people who need them. They are using the Big Sleep Out to raise awareness of their solidarity work with rough sleepers and to ask for donations of food and essentials.

He said: “A lot of the people that turn up find it it’s safe for them. They also like the company and the chance to talk. It’s a break from everyday life where they know they can come they can get some hot food, have a hot drink, have a chat, and they can feel safe and they can feel secure. Whereas, being homeless you’re subjected to, not only what the weather throws at you but people’s judgement and people being not very nice to homeless people.

“It’s heartbreaking sometimes to go there and see so many people that want help.”

To join the Big Sleep Out, download a toolkit here which contains important safety information and advice.

There is also a sponsorship form to support your fundraising and posters to help you raise awareness about your event.

The Uprising of Kindness

The Big Sleep Out is part of Emmaus’s Uprising of Kindness campaign, which calls on everyone to #BeMoreKind and make a positive impact on people experiencing homelessness. February 1 is a national Day of Action, during which people from around Emmaus communities in the UK are taking part in acts of kindness and campaigning.

The day marks the 70th anniversary of a powerful call for kindness from the founder of the Emmaus movement, Abbé Pierre. His appeal led to the Uprising of Kindness – an outpouring of support from members of the public for people who were sleeping rough on the streets of Paris.

You can get involved in the Emmaus Uprising of Kindness by pledging to #BeMoreKind and make a positive difference this year and beyond. Click here to join the campaign.