News and Events 

Youngsters highlight Norwich homelessness issue 

Up to 50 young people, families, YMCA supporters and staff slept in cardboard shelters under the stars near Norwich on Friday night (July 18) to raise awareness of homelessness and raise cash to support the vital work of YMCA Norfolk in combatting it.

NorwichYSE14All450
The third annual Youth Sleep Easy took place outside the YMCA Sports Centre at Trowse near Norwich and was attended by youngsters from local churches including Taverham Evangelical Church (TEC), TLC Norwich, Soul Church, Kings and The Church Norwich as well as members of the Broadland Youth Advisory Board and residents from the YMCA Central facility in Norwich.
 
Participants built cardboard shelters, played games and joined in with group exercises, before eventually bedding down for the night
 
Esther Heybourne, who helps to lead the Soaked Youth from TEC, brought 11 people in total. She said: ”Working for the Matthew Project I work closely with YMCA Norfolk and I see the benefits of the work they do particularly with the clients that we work with. I thought it would be a good idea to bring some of the young people from Soaked along to help make them aware of the issue of youth homelessness in Norfolk and have a bit of fun at the same time.
 
NorwichYSE14CallumPerry450“I hope that our young people will go away with a better understanding of some of the risks that are out there and that there are other young people who struggle and face challenges and don’t have things as good as they themselves might.”
 
Callum Perry, aged 15, from Broadland Youth Advisory Board, said: “For me it is all about understanding how homeless people live and how their lives are different from ours. I think that YMCA Norfolk is a really good charity that we can learn from and help. I look at some of the stories from the YMCA young people and I can relate them to myself and I think it must be really hard for them. If I can help in any way then I am on board to do that and help other people realize what it is to be homeless in this country.”
 
Sian Poindexter, aged 15, was at the Sleep Easy with her brother and mother and they raised over £130 in a single day by posting the event on Facebook and Twitter and asking people to just give a pound, which around 40 people did.  “I hope to get a feel of what it is like to be homeless but also raise awareness of the different young people who don’t have a home. By posting it on social media sites a lot more people will be made aware of the issue,” she said.
 
Abigail Mintey, aged 14, raised £130 from sponsors at Today’s Lifestyle Church (TLC) which she attends, and from school friends. “It has given me a feel of what it is like to be on the streets and how privileged we are ourselves having a bed and a home,” she said.
 
NorwichYSETECGirls400YMCA Norfolk CEO, Tim Sweeting said: “It is a chance for these young people to think and reflect what it might be like to be a homeless young person but also to think how else they might get involved and make a difference for those young people who are maybe not quite as fortunate as themselves. It is also an opportunity for them to give something back to their local community through the fundraising.
 
“Last year we had over 650 applications for housing at YMCA Norfolk and over the course of the year we housed 450 young people, which means that there were 200 young people that we could not help and that is something we want to be able to address. This event will raise some money to help us to do that and also to offer developmental opportunities so that our residents can really develop into their full potential.”
 
Read more about YMCA Norfolk at www.ymca-norfolk.org.uk
 
Pictured above is Callum Perry from the Broadland Youth Advisory Board, a group from Taverham Evangelical Church and the whole YSE team. Pictures by Julia Holland, www.all-about-image.co.uk

Click here to see a full photo gallery of the event

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