STUDENTS from Franklin College spoke of their experience sleeping rough for just one night at a recent Sleep Easy event, held to raise funds for YMCA Humber.
Over 70 students and staff took part in the event, which was held in the college grounds, and a number of the young fundraisers took time out to talk about the obstacles they had to overcome on the evening and how that helped them become further aware of the problem of youth homelessness.
Brittany Summerfield, 18, is a health and social care student at Franklin, and she spoke about becoming aware of youth homelessness through the event.
She said: “I wanted to take part tonight because I realise now how easy it is to become homeless.
“Every one of us is really only three of four steps away from being out on the street and that is a sobering thought.
“It’s important to maintain positive relationships with family, friends and at college and do all we can to help those less fortunate.”
Hannah Bradley, 17, is also a health and social care student and had raised over £100 through sponsorship.
She added: “I know friends that have had to stay at YMCA’s Foyer project in Grimsby and they were at a pretty low ebb but their key workers have helped them turn their lives around.
“Before tonight I wasn’t aware of all the work that YMCA does around the world, not just in our area, so it has been interesting to learn what they do in other countries too.”
For Emilie Peaker, 17, there was an added fear to deal with aside from the night under the stars.
“I’m scared of spiders,” she admitted.
“There have been a lot around lately and one crawled into my cardboard box as soon as I had settled into my sleeping bag.
“I had to get out of the box and it really struck me about how homeless people are able to cope with fears like that – I suppose it is the least of their worries – but it really made me think.”
It was a similar story for Laura Piercy, 18, who found the close community of her area too claustrophobic.
She said: “I had to get out for some fresh air and go find some space of my own.
“There were a lot of people in our area and I just found that it got on top of me a little, so I had to get up.
“You see pictures of homeless people in big cities all squashed together in one area and it is something I just could not do.
“Taking part in Sleep Easy has shown me more than ever that I never want to become homeless but I am glad I am in a situation where I can help raise funds for those less fortunate.”
YMCA Humber’s Communications Coordinator Jonathan Byrne attended the event and spent time with the students, talking about the work of YMCA and listening to their thoughts on homelessness.
He said: “It has been very interesting to hear how the students have coped on a chilly night sleeping rough.
“Some of their stories make you realise how fortunate we are and how we all have little issues that homeless people must deal with on top of the situation they are already in.
“The students at Franklin have shown a great appetite to learn about homelessness and an equal desire to raise funds for YMCA, so that we can continue to help the vulnerable young people of North East Lincolnshire.”