Hey folks, so I’ve finished my week of sleeping rough as part of my empathy challenge.
The first five nights I slept on my bedroom floor in a sleeping bag, and although this wasn’t the most comfortable few nights, it wasn’t too bad and I don’t think I lost much sleep.
Bucket showers have been equally manageable, but not a joy. I’ve been clean, but washing has felt a little like a chore. It was effort, rather than relaxation, that I have associated with my evening routine the past week. It sure was lovely having a proper shower again.
What most people have been interested in hearing about was my shack life. The last two nights of my first week were a novel experience to say the least. It is a strange thing to put on several layers of clothing (and by several I mean base layers, pajamas, jumpers, onesie, fleece, hat, scarf, and everything else which culminates to a Michelin Man outfit) and drag two sleeping bags by torchlight to your ‘bed’… However, I’m a big fan of the stars, so I was very happy to have two clear skies peppered with the glowing beauties as I made my way to my shack.
I built a little shelter out of two cardboard boxes and put tarpaulin both underneath and over it to stop myself getting soaked by the elements. I was very glad of this, as, after the first night, I awoke to puddles of dew covering the tarpaulin, and on the second morning found that these had frozen into little sheets of ice. I was warm enough thanks to all my layers, but sleeping in a cardboard box is never going to be that comfortable. On the plus side, I was happily greeted by my Dad bearing coffee in the morning.
However, as I tried to fall asleep, I was very aware of how vulnerable I was, just sitting in my open garden “protected” by a sheet of plastic over my head. I can imagine that for those who live on the streets the nights become very much associated with fear, especially for younger women like myself.
Something that I’ll take away from this first week is that I’m blessed to be in a position where having a shower is an enjoyable experience, where going to sleep is not only safe but comfortable.
I am abundantly surrounded by luxury and comfort, even in the little things, and I don’t want to forget that.
Although homelessness is a problem for some in Ghana, sleeping out in the cold struck a chord with me more for those who are living on the streets in England. I had A LOT of layers, probably more than most people for whom this is an everyday reality. If you want to know more about how to tackle homelessness or want to support the work of a charity that does, then Off The Fence is an amazing charity that I know and trust who work in Brighton with the homesless and the vulnerable. They run their own ‘Big Sleep Out‘ coming up very soon so keep an eye on their website for info.
I have started my second week challenge of ‘Living below the line’ (eating on £1 per day and drinking only water). I went shopping on Saturday to gather a few supplies (pictured below), and I’ll post about how I got on at the end of the week!
I am so grateful to everyone who has sponsored me on this challenge so far, people have been so generous and it is such an encouragement to me personally to have so much support. If you’d like to donate, my Just Giving explains where all the donations to ICS goes: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/RoseannaLeach