Our companion Chris and Business Development Manager, Gemma Beckett, braved the chilly elements for the St Albans Sleepout on Friday, raising over £1,200 for our community.

Sleeping rough for one night was particularly poignant for Chris who was street homeless for five months before joining Emmaus Hertfordshire, so the Sleepout at Oaklands College on Friday night brought back memories of that bleak period.

Chris said: “It really doesn’t compare to life on the streets, because this time I knew I could go home to a warm bed the next day. It did get cold, especially in the early hours of the morning, but it was actually an enjoyable experience – the atmosphere was good. I’d certainly do it again next year.

Gemma said: “For Chris, sleeping rough on the streets at the mercy of the elements was his life 24/7, for 5 months before coming to our community, as it was for many of our companions.

“We are beyond proud of him for taking part to help raise funds and awareness of our charity. It really brought home to me just how fortunate I am to have a warm home to go back to, and how important it is that we continue our work to provide that for people like Chris too.

Gemma added: “The evening went really well. It’s so heartening to see such a fantastic turnout of people raising vital funds for local homelessness charities.

“Thanks to our generous supporters and fundraisers, we can continue to transform the lives of people affected by homelessness and provide them with a warm and stable home, employment in our social enterprises and ensure a brighter future by providing support and guidance into independent living.”

A total of 135 people braved the cold and took part in the St Albans Sleepout event on Friday at Oaklands College, marking the 30th anniversary of the annual event and raising £56,000 for five local homelessness charities including us – hyh (Herts Young Homeless), Open Door, The Living Room and Centre 33.

Those who participated were invited to sleep outside for the night on a bed of cardboard to experience what life is like for some of the charities’ service users, whilst raising vital funds for the charities involved.

Youth groups, local businesses and members of the community all took part in the event, organised by Herts Young Homeless. The Sleepout was also attended by the Hertfordshire High Sheriff, Liz Green, Daisy Cooper MP and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of St Albans.

Jonny Whitehead, hyh CEO, said: “It was heart-warming to see over 135 members of our local community brave the cold and take part in the Sleepout – with temperatures dropping to as low as three degrees during the night.

“This was a single night for those who took part, compared to those who have no choice but to rough sleep each night. Everybody I spoke to, from local Youth Groups through to community businesses and families, felt humbled by the experience. Our young people deserve to fulfill their full potential and lead happy and healthy lives; all the money raised helps us to provide the services to support them and to break the cycle of youth homelessness.”

The Sleepout was kindly sponsored by local businesses Mulalley and Echelon, with support from the Watford Rapid Relief Team who provided a free breakfast in the morning and St Albans Arts who ran the evening’s entertainment.

If you would like to make a donation to Emmaus Hertfordshire, please visit our Justgiving page here: https://tinyurl.com/4ahtk5n2