Simon on the Streets

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For anyone who doesn’t know, I took part in a sponsored sleep-out on the mean streets of Leeds last night for Simon on the Streets (SOTS). Well, I survived the wind and the rain, and if the truth is to be told, it was relatively easy.

That’s not me being blasé about sleeping on the streets, but is because sleeping on the streets is merely a symptom of what SOTS are challenging.

Prior to bedding down, we did a tour with one of their outreach workers. He had had a very interesting journey to where he is now, having been himself on the streets for eight years up to the age of 25, finally turning things around with the help of SOTS.

He had a disruptive and abusive background, which had an impact on his emotional and social developments. Ultimately, these factors, along with many others materialised themselves in drug addiction, which duly enraptured his life and pushed him away from what little support he had. So he lived rough.

The problem with sleeping rough isn’t simply the uncomfortable conditions. As I’ve stated above, with the ingenuity that many of these people show, these factors can be nominalised. However, the psychological, emotional and social  problems that are entrenched through an existence without trust, love or access to support confound and develop problems, moving people to an alienated state of despair.

For our guide, after eight years of hardship, drug abuse, crime, loneliness and distrust, with the help of SOTS he had come to the conclusion that it was time to change things for himself. As he was at pain to point out, the desire to change is a massive hurdle. For many, there is a distrust of the services that are available as targets which can lead to a sense of failure and rejection, which is why SOTS are completely different. They will plug away offering any support, from a “Hello!” to cup of coffee and natter to support in accessing rehabilitation programmes and never ban or walk away from a service user: People are not machines, yet, at least, but I’ll leave ideology out of this for now.

So, SOTS offer support to help people at their own pace, which means that they will not receive funding from the government, as the rate of progress is not measured in a way that value can be easily attributed to. This means that events like last night are the only way that the charity can sustain itself. Thankfully, the generosity of the sponsors that just our group of seven people (there were dozens more taking part too) raised in excess of £1’000 prior to the event, which is phenomenal.

Donations can still be made to myself up until the 13/12/2012 via www.justgiving.com/kevinjsanders, so if you can spare anything it really will help to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable and isolated members of our society.

I’d like to thank all of my sponsors and supporters for their kind benevolence. It is greatly appreciated.

Many thanks!

Kevin Sanders

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