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The Big Sleep 2024

75 people spend the night outside for The Bridge Homelessness to Hope's biggest fundraising event of the year.

The Big Sleep 2024 took place on Tuesday 19th March in aid of The Bridge's day centre which supports people who are experiencing homelessness in Leicester.

Evie Ridgway from The Bridge seeks shelter from the rain

 'Big Sleep' events were hosted across several locations this year, including the University of Leicester, De Montfort University and Heidelberg Material UK's Chipping Sudbury Quarry near Bristol. Eleven children and four chaperones from Leicester St Matthews SDA Church also spent the night outside in aid of The Big Sleep, raising over £400 for the Leicester charity.

Those participating included staff and volunteers from The Bridge, plus staff from Heidelberg Materials UK, Dupli Ltd and Amazon, as well as students and staff from The University of Leicester and De Montfort University.

Participants gathered from 7pm on Tuesday evening outside the University of Leicester's David Wilson library to prepare for what would be a cold and wet night under the stars, before moving down to Centenary Square to listen to speeches from David Fawcett, The Bridge's CEO as well as Paul Lacey and Marian Garfield from Heidelberg Materials UK.

The group were then joined by one of The Bridge's caseworkers, Ella Tansey and Robert Spooner, who is a peer volunteer at charity's day centre for a Q & A session, which gave an insight into the work they do within the homeless community, as well as highlight the struggles they face on a daily basis.

Afterwards, those in attendance settled down into their sleeping bags for the night, with some sheltering under the University's canopies and umbrellas as the rain started to come down. In spite of the poor weather, most were determined to stay outside and experience what it's like for those who sleep on the streets every night.

Some of the participants of The Big Sleep reflect on their night outside in aid of homelessness:

"(It's) really changed my perspective on homelessness and I will approach homeless people with more kindness. It is not easy to be out on the streets and I count myself very lucky to have been part in this experience, but also, to be able to sleep in my own soft and warm bed tonight."

Annika Hezinger, Heidelberg Materials, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol.

Staff from Heidelberg Materials UK bed down for the night

"It seems a common theme, talking to many volunteers that everyone is taking something away from this experience. (The money raised) will make such a difference, but most importantly as a company, we have raised awareness of homelessness in the hope that more will start to see that we need to make great changes to combat this ever increasing problem. It is not going to go away without major changes."

Jops Dann, Social Value & FAIR Coordinator at Heidelberg Materials, Leicester.

Carrie McCreery and Harley Allen from Dupli Ltd, Leicester.

"Thinking about the recent British weather, we couldn't imagine how it would feel to have no respite from these conditions day after day. We had just a taster of what it might be like to sleep rough, but we were in a safe place surrounded by others and the knowledge we were going home. Thinking of the added dangers and threats that the homeless face, along with health issues, poor conditions and continuous stress, really made us question the reality of life for people on the streets."

Claire McCreery, from Dupli Ltd in Leicester.

The money raised from The Big Sleep will support a range of services that The Bridge Homelessness to Hope delivers to people experiencing homelessness in Leicester including breakfast and lunch services, access to hot showers, clothing and toiletries, washing and drying facilities, as well as the support of case workers and mentors.

"Thank you again to everyone who took part, fundraised, sponsored and supported our biggest event of the year. Special thank you to Shoezone Retail Ltd, Dupli Ltd and Long Harbour for your sponsorship and participation, and to everyone at Heidelberg Materials UK for all your support. Massive thank you to De Montfort University and the University of Leicester for hosting our Big Sleep events!"



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