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The Big Virtual SleepOut

Virtual Big Sleep Out 2021 to raise funds for North Wales homeless services.

Staff, residents, and partners of ClwydAlyn, a North Wales housing association will swap their warm comfy beds for a sleeping bag and cardboard box later this month to raise much-needed funds for homeless services in the region; as well as raising vital funds for the life-saving North Wales Air Ambulance.

ClwydAlyn’s Big Sleep Out 2021 takes place virtually this year on Saturday, 27th February, and as well as raising money, the initiative also aims to raise awareness of those experiencing homelessness.

The Big Sleep Out has become an annual feature in ClwydAlyn’s calendar after it was started by an employee nine years ago. Senior Project Officer Lynda Williams came up with the idea, encouraged by her late mum Merle Dobson, after seeing a similar successful initiative in Chester.

Since then, the event has raised thousands of pounds to make life a little better for people experiencing homelessness in North Wales.

Lynda, who works at Ty Golau, which provides emergency bed accommodation for homeless or rough sleepers in Rhyl, said: “Back in 2012, I became aware of a charity sleep out initiative in Chester and thought how good it would be to do something similar in North Wales.

“With help from my late mum Merle, we held our first sleep out at New Brighton Community Centre, near Mold, holding one annually every year after that in Northop.

“Last year we raised an amazing £11,570 as we extended the Big Sleep Out across four counties of North Wales, encouraging more people than ever to get involved. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic we have had to go virtual, but in my opinion, it just makes it easier for more people to take part.

“In my role I see the devastating effect homelessness and rough sleeping has and I hope as many people as possible will support us in helping to raise funds and awareness of this issue. The money goes towards improving the lives of the people who use our services, it can be used towards the cost of everyday essentials that we take for granted, like simple toiletries or for helping people with transport costs to their first interview.

“I will be sleeping out in my garden, but to make it more accessible to families, we have relaxed the guidance this year, so as long as you’re not sleeping in your bed, you can still take part.”

Clare Budden, Chief Executive of ClwydAlyn, and a member of the Welsh Government’s Homelessness Action Group, said: “This is a fantastic initiative and I feel privileged to be involved.

“The problem of homelessness and rough sleeping is increasing and, in stark terms, people experiencing homelessness die earlier (in their mid-40s) and are nine times more likely to take their own lives. People sleeping on the streets are 17 times more likely to be victims of crime.

“This is shocking, it’s a national crisis and we hope that our Big Sleep Out will not only raise much-needed funds but, crucially raise awareness of this issue and what we can all do to help.

“We are still encouraging people to sleep outside if they can, so they can get a better understanding of what homeless people deal with on a nightly basis. This year, we will also have a family focus, and we will be providing all children who take part with a goody bag. It is a brilliant opportunity for us all to talk to our families about the causes and effects of homelessness.’’

Anyone who would like to be involved can email and download our fundraising pack here.

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