Havering residents sleep rough for charity

Reverend Chris Wragg has worked with homeless people for more than 16 years and recently became involved in Havering’s newest homeless project called the Hope For Havering Night Shelter, but up until last week he really had no idea what it was like to sleep rough.

The clergyman, 51, who is based at All Saints’ Church in Ardleigh Green Road, Hornchurch was among 30 people who took part in the Romford YMCA Sleep Easy event last Friday.

Rev Wragg said: “It was a very fulfilling experience and it has given me a real insight into what it is like to sleep rough.

“Homeless people are denied everything that we take for granted.”

The event saw volunteers and staff, ranging from ages 16 to 65, swapping their beds for cardboard boxes and sleeping under the stars to raise awareness of homelessness.

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The night, which raised �2,000 for the charity, started at 7pm and went right through until 7am on Saturday March 3.

Participants were treated to cups of teas and were given a free zumba lesson.

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Rev Wragg said: “It really made me think just how vulnerable homeless people are.

“We were part of a group so it wasn’t that bad, but I don’t know how they would be able to get any sleep with so much noise and also carrying their belongings around with them.”

Romford resident Christian Hansen, 56, who is thinking about volunteering at a homeless project also took part in the event.

He said: “I did it last year so I knew what to expect.

“I really want to work with homeless people so this event was part of the process for me before I make a final decision.”

Vicki Bainsfair, who volunteers at the YMCA also slept rough for the night.

She said: “Everybody understood about the effects of homelessness but being able to go home afterwards made them realise that homeless people do not have that luxury.”

In total there were 1,393 people across the country taking part in the event, raising �141,000.

Organiser Nikki Sedin said: “People in Havering think that there isn’t a homeless problem but if it was not for us they would realise that it is a major concern because we house 150 young people who would have otherwise been living on the streets.”

For more information visit www.romfordymca.org/

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