THERE were plenty of high-profile rough sleepers at YMCA Humber’s Sleep Easy 2014 event but perhaps the most recognisable of them all was Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin.
Mr Dakin bedded down with 35 other participants at the North Lincolnshire town’s New Life Church to help raise the profile of homelessness across the county and raise money for both YMCA Humber and Scunthorpe’s own Lighthouse project.
It was a cold and wet night at the church on Brumby Wood Lane but that did not deter Mr Dakin from joining his fellow participants in creating cardboard shelters for the night.
He said: “Everybody was busy ingeniously transforming cardboard boxes with gaffer tape and other materials into something substantial enough to stand up to the wind and rain.
“The community spirit on display was impressive.
“My salvation was being introduced to Gary, who was able to take the cardboard boxes I had brought with me and work his magic to transform them into a home for the night.
“The cardboard ‘houses’ were then dragged one-by-one onto the muddy ground at the back of the church.
“It began to resemble the cardboard city I had seen outside St. Paul’s for the Occupy demonstration.”
Through conversations with Darren Johnson of Homeless Link and YMCA Humber CEO Malcolm Smith, Mr Dakin was able to comment on the homeless situation in North Lincolnshire.
“Darren was able to pinpoint a lack of crisis facility or a proper capacity for outreach to identify homeless people and make sure they are getting the right support,” he said.
“But there are projects like the Lighthouse and it is vitally important that we continue to support them and other projects locally.
“It is also positive that the a new facility is being opened where Scotter House was that will provide accommodation for people in transition from a homeless state into more stable accommodation.”
As for the night itself, Mr Dakin admits that the main aim was staying dry in the wet conditions but there were also other factors throughout the 12-hour stint that gave food for thought when it comes to rough sleeping.
He continued: “The rain never really completely stopped but I was able to stay dry thanks to a combination of my cardboard structure and my sleeping bag – which was no mean feat.
“I did sleep a bit but the noise from traffic, the rain and people moving about around you was always competing for my attention.
“The good news for us all was that it was just for one night but it did bring home the reality of how horrible it must be to be homeless.”
Mr Dakin also praised his fellow fundraisers and those who have donated to his campaign.
He concluded: “A massive well done to everyone involved and a massive thank you to those that have helped me raise over £600 by sponsoring me.”
If you would still like to donate to Nic Dakin’s Sleep Easy campaign – you can do so by clicking here.