Not something perhaps to be admitted without an injunction, but we were not alone! This particular legal lady decided to put her formidable skills towards raising money and awareness for St James Place, a charity for homeless teenagers connected with the charity Centre Point.
We are both mothers of young adults and the thought of any child being homeless is unbearable, so when the opportunity to do something presented itself – a night with my favourite representative of our judicial system was too good to resist.
Our fundraising grew apace and our initial modest target of £150 was thrashed before I’d even finished my application to join in! And as our donations headed towards five hundred pounds our social media skills were put into full action. She was superb – mixing humour, pathos and mock bribery to stunning effect. I simply resorted to begging and between us we managed to rock up on the night of the sleep out with almost one thousand pounds pledged.
We of course had the benefit of ‘stuff’; four-season sleeping bags, waterproof clothing and warm woolly fleeces. We’d eaten a hot meal and had kissed goodbye to our loving family and friends; we knew we’d be going home tomorrow – we were not trying to emulate the horror of those who really are homelessness, but nevertheless it was cold and very wet!
It had rained non stop all day and as we lay our cardboard sleeping mats onto the soaking wet pavement it began to sink in how truly awful it would be if this was an everyday thing. Sure we had the benefit of a marquee type roof but the sides were open and it was windy. I found myself right next to an open conduit which was full with streaming rain water running an inch from my head.
There were loads of us sleeping out and people from the charity had laid on hot drinks and entertainment. There was a party atmosphere and the rum we had with our hot chocolate definitely took the edge off. My friend and I enjoyed giggling and banter – we even fashioned a Venn diagram denoting the sheer number of people we seemed to both know called Clare!
We also marvelled at the generosity of our friends and family. Our money raising efforts climbed towards £1.5k as we tweeted and shared our evening. We had a welcome and unexpected chocolate delivery and a very dear friend came down to take photos, she also brought hand warmers and hot water bottles and generally we felt much loved.
But despite our relative luxury, there were times late into the night in a half sleep, when the noise outside from pub/club chucking out time and the random shouts and sounds of the street grew large and close and I felt vulnerable and a tiny bit scared. Even in my proximity to people and next to my friend – I felt small and exposed. Imagine having no choice in the matter, no money no shelter and still being a child.
This Christmas I know I’ll be thinking more often of those who are perhaps dreaming they could complain that they’ve eaten too much or had to visit too many relatives.
Money raised by the two of us was in excess of £2,000 thanks to you generous folk. xxx