Romford volunteers sleep rough for homeless event

FREEZING temperatures did not stop people from sleeping rough outside of Romford’s YMCA building to raise awareness of the plight of homeless people across Havering.

More than 30 staff and volunteers ranging from ages seven to 50 took to the streets outside of the YMCA building in Rush Green Road, Romford on Friday January 28 on traditionally the coldest night of the year.

Organiser of the event, Harsheron Kaur said: “I am not going to pretend because it was very cold and it was just freezing.

“And we all felt it but the team support and the reason that we were doing it just helped us all to get through the night.”

Armed with cardboard boxes, duvet blankets and plenty of hot drinks, the event kicked off at 6pm and went right into the next day at 6am Satuday January 29.

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Among one of the rough sleepers was 23-year-old Gemma Bailey, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy and is the communication officer for the YMCA.

Gemma said: “The whole event was really good because it just opened my eyes to homelessness and I was really happy that I was able to take part in the event.

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“I knew it would be difficult for me to do, but I set myself a goal and when I set my mind to something I try to achieve it.”

Joining Gemma in sleeping rough was also 20-year-old Jessica Clegg from Gidea Park.

She said; “I haven’t done any charity work for a long time so I wanted to do this because it really took me out of my comfort zone.

“It was a bit of a adventure and a big learning curve and it was good to try something new.

“I really think that homeless people need to be given a second chance so I was happy that I could help.”

The volunteers also had a visit from Rainham and Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas.

Nationally there were also 550 people throughout the country taking part in the event to raise awareness of homelessness.

So far �4800 has already been raised from the Romford event, with more sponsorship forms still to come.

All the money raised will be used by the YMCA to train homeless people into life skills so that they can begin to rebuild their lives.

Organiser Nikki Sedin said: “In Havering people do not always see lots of homeless people on the streets, so they tend to forgot that there is a problem.

“But we help to accomodate 140 homeless people in our centre so if we were not there it would be more of a problem so instead of just helping them and then letting them go back on the streets, we want to have a lasting difference to them so this money will really help.”

To make donations to the cause email

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