Charity workers brave the elements in £15k homeless sleepout

A GROUP of charity workers braved the elements in an overnight sleep outdoors to raise over £15,000 in a stand against homelessness.

ScotsCare CEO Shona Fleming and her team slept in a stand of Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, London as part of the 2023 London CEO Sleepout.

The sleepout brings together business leaders from across the country to raise awareness for homelessness.

ScotsCare is a charity which aims to “break the cycle of deprivation experienced by generation after generation of Scots in London”.

The Monday night sleepout was 53-year-old Shona’s seventh personal attempt at the challenge which she said, “does not get any easier”.

Shona (second from right) and her team in Lord’s Cricket Ground, London.

Her fellow sleepers included Paul McFarland, ScotsCare trustee Jessica Cadzow-Collins, Rebecca Bains as well as David C Balden and Matthew McCluskey from the Caledonian Club.

ScotsCare’s first attempt at the London CEO Sleepout this year has helped to fundraise for supporting homeless Scots into safe and secure housing as well as help with addiction and mental health issues.

In the evening before the Monday sleepout, Shona from Dulwich, south London, and her team were joined by Scotscare client James, who spoke to attendees about his experience of living without a safe and secure home.

Originally from Glasgow and suffering childhood trauma, he left home when he was very young and ended up homeless on the streets of London with alcohol problems.

ScotsCare client and volunteer James.

James was imprisoned for 14 years after a night of heavy drinking and an ultimately deadly assault on a fellow homeless man who was bullying him.

He later discovered Scotscare after being released from prison into a hostel, with the charity providing him with a flat as part of their provision of over-50s sheltered accommodation.

James now volunteers for Scotscare and works in their office every week.

Shona said: “It is what it is – it’s rough. It’s very difficult to get to sleep.

“I never got to sleep until way past three in the morning and then I woke up again at half five – and probably slept intermittently in those two hours.

“The noise level when you’re sleeping outside – traffic, sirens, other people, even just moving around, even though they were fellow sleepers.

“If you’re on the street and people are walking past you all the time it’s just awful and cold.

Shona slept amongst seating in one of the Lord’s Cricket Ground stands.

“And then obviously on the trip coming home you feel quite disorientated, almost like jetlagged and just very tired.”

Shona added: “Obviously we’re trying to fundraise but it’s also a real reminder of just how rough it is for people.

“A homeless client might come in the morning after sleeping rough and you’re asking them 10 or 20 questions doing an assessment.

“If my brain’s not functioning as well as it should after just one night then how does the average homeless person on the streets for a couple of weeks feel?”