For many of us at this time of the year, we're able to finish our day at work and come home with a roof over our heads. We're warm, we have food on our tables. Unfortunately for some people this is something that is seen as an unreachable luxury for them, which is why we as a club wanted to help raise awareness by hosting the Friday Night Sleep Out here at Vale Park.
Homelessness in Stoke on Trent has been a growing problem for many years, with the number of homeless people always on the rise. In October it was reported the number of cases handled by Stoke-on-Trent’s rough sleepers team rose from 156 in 2015 to 205 last year.
For Jeanette Jackson and colleague Glyn, seeing people out on the streets was something they couldn't bare to see. In 2015 after spending time with a homeless man in York, they started up Help for Homeless, a service dedicated to helping rough sleepers.
Jeanette and Glyn began to work their way around Hanley and feed those in need. By night three the pair were feeding 15 people and the numbers increased, and they now feed up to 50 people a night. Their efforts gained Help for Homeless CIC status (Community Interest Company) which allows them to apply for funding, have stalls in stores and much more.
Following their night here at Vale Park, Jeanette highlighted it was just one night for them but for some, sleeping rough and in the freezing cold is 24/7, 365 days of the year for many people.
"This time of year is so hard for the rough sleepers so we do our best to get the essential items that they need. This year following the sleep out at Vale, if all money raised comes in this will be a life line for the homeless in Stoke-on-Trent. Not only will we be able to purchase essential items but will be able to fund over night stays in a B&B.
"Sixteen people attended the out doors sleep out. The night was long and hard, although we are not even in the winter period. We were frozen through to our bones. We were all layed up with hot drinks but still found it difficult. About 2am was the hardest as you start to lose your momentum, you can't wait for day light. You want to give up but how can you, this is life for so many people.
"It's one night for us so giving up is not in it. I personally was worried about Glyn as he had only had a heart attack 5 weeks prior to the sleep out. But because of his passion for what we do he insisted that he was still doing it.
"We would like to thank all of the public for your support and to Port Vale FC for allowing us to use their grounds to do this."
Help for Homeless are planning another sleep out next year. Donations on their JustGiving page is still open until 30th November 2018 and can be found here
. You can find their Facebook here at Help for the Homeless CIC.