Last Friday’s Big Sleep Out raised over £6000 for local homeless charity Step By Step, as Shots Chairman Shahid Azeem and Director Andy Muckett joined 70 people sleeping rough on the East Bank.
In five years, the annual Sleep Out has now raised over £50,000 for young homeless people, as Club sponsors Reade Signs were joined by Aldershot MP Sir Gerald Howarth, Aldershot Garrison Commander, Colonel Charlie Lambert, and Mayor of Rushmoor, Councillor Martin Tennant.
United by the aim of “sleeping out so others don’t have to”, participants as young as three years old adorned the famous East Bank steps with an array of sleeping bags, blankets and their own unique ‘cardboard city’ creations to raise awareness of the problem of youth homelessness, and much needed funds for Step By Step’s training services. These services equip the young clients with the basic life skills required to live independently and help them gain employment or a place on a college course.
Before settling down for the night at 11.30pm, participants enjoyed an evening of entertainment, featuring live music from Issac Nichols and Up2NoGood and talks from three Step By Step clients to relay their experiences. Night-time refreshments and breakfast were served by Clark Caterers.
“I can’t say that it was a pleasurable experience,” admitted Muckett, “but it certainly brought home the hardships which many people face. It’s a fantastic cause and I am delighted that Aldershot Town FC continue to support it. Instead of taking basic comforts for granted, as many of us do, we must do what we can to help members of our community for whom every night is a struggle just to find somewhere to sleep.”
Even in a relatively affluent area, there are many young people from Surrey and Hampshire who are forced out of their homes by their parents, or who leave to protect their own well-being. For the past 21 years, Step by Step has provided a bed to sleep in, support and counselling to those people, with plenty of help so that they can pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. For further information, visit www.stepbystep.org.uk.
** Less than 36 hours after his Sleep Out, Andy joined another Club sponsor, Ian Dawkins of Hi-Speed Services, in cycling the 60 miles from London to Brighton in aid of Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice.
Images (c) Ingrid Weel @ingridweel