THEY came from all over Wigan, Leigh and beyond…
Groups of friends, workmates, volunteers and big-hearted members of the public determined to make a difference.
More than 120 people hit the pavement as part of The Brick charity’s annual Street Sleep event and between them they raised many thousands of pounds to support people in need.
Armed with sleeping bags and enough cardboard to make a temporary shelter, the volunteers converged on Market Place right in the heart of Wigan Town Centre.
Spirits were high on an unseasonably warm and dry March night as droves of ‘rough-sleepers’ bedded down for the night. Their purpose was to support the great work of The Brick by helping to raise awareness about the issues facing homeless people and people in crisis.
John Parker, who is Chair of the Board of Trustees for The Brick, picked a prime shop doorway spot for his night out on the streets. And he was overwhelmed by the response to the charity’s call for help.
“It’s an absolutely amazing turnout,” said John. “The people of Wigan Borough have really done us proud tonight. They have given up their home comforts in a show of solidarity for homeless people. We think this is a really important event because it gives people an idea of exactly how difficult it can be to live on the streets.”
“Of course, we can all go home after the challenge but for those who are in a less fortunate position, often through no fault of their own, sleeping rough is a grim reality.”
John added: “The Brick relies on fundraising and donations to continue its work, so events like this are a real lifeline for us. Judging by the amount of people here tonight it looks like we will have topped last year’s figure, which is a fantastic result.”
"Wed like to thank all the wonderful people who have made this years event such a success. Because you volunteered to sleep on the street, someone else wont have to."
Kathleen Pitt, The Brick Chief Executive
The Brick works with homeless people and people and families in crisis across Wigan Borough. Each week the charity sees nearly 200 people who need help with issues such as financial hardship, fuel poverty, homelessness and domestic violence. It speaks to more than twice this number over the phone. It delivers 150 food parcels, serves 50 hot lunches and provides training opportunities for more than 30 people.
People came from as far away as Manchester to take part in Street Sleep and many came as part of a work group.
Organisations represented included Wigan Clinical Commissioning Group, The 5 Borough’s NHS Trust, Hitchens Foods, The Dicconson Group Practice and Costa Coffee from the Grand Arcade.
For Kim Owen and Rebecca Crossley from Joy Global Mining, Street Sleep marked the climax of a busy week.
“We are an international company and all our branches have been asked to pick a local charity to support this week,” said Employee Benefit Manager Kim Owen. “We are all aware of the great work that The Brick does in the community so it was just the perfect choice for us. Earlier in the week we dropped a car full of tins of food for the food bank and now we are delighted to be here.”
Fiona Tootill, from Wigan Age UK was there to show support for fellow charity workers.
“We are involved in a lot of the same areas as The Brick and we work together,” said Fiona. “It’s a marvellous organisation and we’re all working for the same goal - to help improve the quality of people’s lives.”
The biggest show of support for Street Sleep came from Wigan Council. The authority set up a Just Giving webpage before the event and teams from Public Health, Children’s Services, Libraries, the Youth Service and Adult Social Care came along on the night.
Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, Cllr Chris Ready, said: “We have supported The Brick since it first opened and we’re delighted to see that it has come so far and has done so well. We work well together and refer a lot of people who come to us for help to The Brick. I’m really proud that so many members of staff have given up their time to support the charity. For us it’s a great example of The Deal in action.”
The Brick’s Chief Executive Kathleen Pitt added: “Street Sleep has really captured the public’s imagination and each year it goes from strength-to-strength. The number of people taking part has doubled compared to last year, which is great news and a real testament to the caring nature of our community in Wigan Borough. Homelessness, financial hardship and family crisis are things that could happen to anyone, so it’s really important that we continue to help as many people as we can. Funds raised tonight will go directly to support the charity and help with things like keeping the shelves of the food bank stocked. We’d like to thank all the wonderful people who have made this year’s event such a success. We can honestly say that because you volunteered to sleep on the street, someone else won’t have to.”
- To see more of Street Seep 2016 click here: http://bit.ly/1S0fm1L
- There’s still time to support The Brick, for more information on how to get involved or how to donate, go to www.thebrick.org.uk
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