The Moral of the Sleep Out
Before I even start, thank you so much to everybody who sponsored me on the online donations page and on my sponsor sheet. I don’t know how to word this without sounding like a massive cliché, but I am genuinely overwhelmed with how generous everybody has been. The event was part of the Celtic FC Foundations Christmas Appeal, so all the money raised goes towards families leading troubled or chaotic lives in the hopes of making this festive season that bit more special. Between all the participants we’ve raised over £60,000 and it absolutely will not go to waste– thank you soooo much!
As usual, every blog post comes with a wee disclaimer. I’m not writing this to be like “oh look, I did a charity thing! #philanthropy”. I just thought I’d write a wee thing about a few thoughts I have after doing the Celtic Sleep Out last month. If you don’t want to read it that’s okay you can just click off and resume to doing whatever internet-y thing you were doing before, I won’t know I promise!
It’ll be just coming up to a month on the button since I slept out on the trackside at Celtic Park with my pal Anne-Marie. We signed up in August and I can remember thinking at the time “that’s ages away, it’ll be nearly Christmas by the time that’s here!” and right enough here we are, it’s been and gone and we’re right into Advent already! The event itself came round really quickly so it was absolutely typical of us to be totally unprepared until a few days before and also get to Celtic Park nearly an hour late, but we got there. We went outside and were pitched on the trackside by 11pm and that was us for the night. It was right cold but it was almost bearable until about 3am and then it was almost impossible to move! It was a challenge but I’m almost hesitant to say that because we had it well easy. We had sleeping bags, food, hot drinks and working toilets so if that was difficult, I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for these people who sleep rough every night.
The whole experience has really got me thinking about these people on the streets particularly at this time of year. It’s unbelievably easy to see a homeless person in the city centre and just move on with your day – but it shouldn’t be that easy. Everybody can recognise there’s an outrageous number of people sleeping rough, especially during these cold months, but what are we doing about it? We need to stop seeing these people as statistics and as ‘the norm’ and start recognising that they are people with identities, likes, dislikes, families and roots. These people deserve contentment and safety, not just at Christmas but always. It sounds almost typical but even as much as a smile is better than just walking by and pretending they’re invisible. Yes, its upsetting seeing other humans struggling and unsafe, but ignorance absolutely isn’t bliss in these cases. We also need to get shot of this worrying rhetoric that they’re all “addicts” and “junkies”. Truthfully, some of them will be addicts. Does that make them second-class citizens? Absolutely not. Dependency on things like alcohol and drugs is an unfortunately normal consequence of circumstances like this. People search for ways of coping and I think it’s absolutely sickening to hear some people who live quite comfortably speak of the homeless in a way that suggests they’re undeserving of help because they’ve found themselves in a situation where their only means of coping is through dependency.
I knew I was likely to end up rambling while I was writing this so I’ll get to the point. Now I’m not saying that everybody should go and sleep outside in the ground of their chosen football team, and I’m definitely not saying I’m some kind of martyr for doing just that – I just think we could all be doing so much more man! Even just starting to recognise these people as real humans and keeping them in mind over this Christmas period is a step in the right direction. We are all too comfortable a society in our wee bubble that doesn’t like to see the truth and keeps the marginalised, marginalised. I’m going to leave a few links of some cool organisations etc just underneath this if anybody is interested in learning about some of the work that’s being done and how to help. Thank you ever so much for reading if you have stuck around to the end!
“The new generation is being called upon to rectify and change without hesitation all that should be rectified and changed” Fidel Castro, 2011
If you are worried about a homeless person on the street, you can report their location and at what time you seen them to ‘Street Link’ on their app, website or on 0300 5000914 to get them the necessary attention.
If you are interested in donating to a food bank this Christmas, you can use this link to find your nearest one: https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/
Of course not all food banks are listed on the above website so keep your eyes peeled for one local to you because food banks are unfortunately a lot more common than the few listed here. Food bank resources are used not just for homeless people, but primarily people who have permanent accommodation and are employed but remain in challenging financial situations. The help they provide is invaluable as are the donations made at this time of year.