'No one should be without a home in the 21st century': Sleeping rough for a night gives volunteers food for thought
TO SAY they were not really looking forward the night's challenge is an understatement.
But East Riding Councillor David Elvidge and Beverley youth worker Ali Crompton had signed up and organised the sponsor money. So, even though the forecast said sub-zero temperatures and even snow, they dutifully took part in the Beverley version of the YMCA's Sleep Easy charity event.
They were joined by three others bedding down outside King's Church, off Swinemoor Lane, on Friday night to highlight the plight of homeless people.
The councillor, a former Beverley mayor, arrived with his husky dog Paige and a sleeping bag to be met by Ali.
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Cllr Elvidge said: "I watched as Ali assembled a makeshift place to sleep out of cardboard, a thing I'd never thought about before but a thing that up and down the country, happens in various locations for some people every night.
"After almost 20 years at The Defence School of Transport in Leconfield, my support for this event included a sleeping bag and bivvie bag, a home from home for troops deployed outdoors without tents."
Next to arrive were Steve and Becky Hill, of Bridlington, who constructed their makeshift accommodation under some stairs.
Chatting and playing with Paige, the happy group enjoyed the novelty, at least to begin with.
Cllr Elvidge said: "As it approached 9pm, we all began to feel the cold – of course we did, we were stuck outside with no shelter.
"About 11.15pm we decided to settle down. It had rained on and off since we arrived, so we were happy to wrap up."
With the temperature dropping and Paige unable to fit inside her master's sleeping bag, she was taken inside to the relative warmth.
Only the two-legged volunteers were there when the Mail's photographer arrived just before midnight.
David said: "Ali commented that my face said it all as I peered from inside my maggot bag. I tried not to show my weariness.
"With the rain beating down I struggled to sleep and when the rain turned to sleet, it got worse. I did get some sleep and it was about 3.15am when I visited the little boys' room.
"Paige began to do her full body wiggle when I came in. I couldn't sleep and took Paige to explore our surroundings, it seemed so desolate."
No one slept past 5.30am and their reward for braving the cold was a YMCA-provided bacon sandwich.
The volunteers needed no reminding their one-off experience fell well short of experiencing genuine life on the streets.
Bathroom facilities and morning bacon sandwiches aside, the main difference is the volunteers endured one night only.
The following day they were able to enjoy a hot shower and an early night in a comfortable bed.
But they took on the challenge to raise awareness as well as gain a small insight into a world they knew little about.
Reflecting on his experience, Cllr Elvidge said: "Did we experience life on the streets? No we didn't. But did it give us and our sponsors food for thought?
"I missed my wife, my home, my bed and all the things I take for granted.
"The homeless need our help in the 21st century. No one should be without a home. In the East Riding we thankfully don't have vast numbers sleeping rough, but we do have many people without homes who sofa surf or crash with friends because they have no where else to go.
"I hope we made people think and made a small but significant difference.
"Would I do it again?
"I think so, but I would be better prepared."