Updated: Tuesday, 21st November 2017 @ 3:37pm

'I'm glad I wasn't alone': MM spends the night sleeping rough to raise awareness of homelessness

'I'm glad I wasn't alone': MM spends the night sleeping rough to raise awareness of homelessness

| By Alice Richardson

Some of the biggest movers and shakers in Manchester business circles gave up their warm and welcoming beds for the night earlier this month to take part in the CEO Sleepout event.

Three MM reporters - Alice Richardson, Sophie-May Clarke and Faye Brown - joined them at Lancashire County Cricket Club's Old Trafford ground to try and find out what it is like for the thousands of people who are forced to sleep in the open each night.

Here MM reporter Alice Richardson recounts her night sleeping in the eye of Storm Ophelia:

Nervous is an understatement. From around 7am on Monday I began to steadily wind myself up for the upcoming night in the elements as Storm Ophelia’s building winds grew to a fever pitch.

I bundled myself on to the 8:21am train into Manchester, laden down with two sleeping bags, a pillow and layers and layers of warm clothing. I got a few odd stares and raised eyebrows to say the least.

After the usual day of lessons, I and the two other girls who’d signed up for the Sleepout heated up our packed dinners, quickly ate them and hopped on a tram to Trafford Bar.

We arrived at Old Trafford Cricket Club at 7:40pm after fighting strong gusts of wind en route.

We walked in, signed a contract to confirm we were responsible for ourselves all evening and were pleased to note the Cricket Club’s bar was open until 12 midnight.

After staying indoors in the warm and chatting to some of the other 70 sleepers (CEOs) until the last possible moment, we finally decided to brave the outdoors and scouted out a suitable spot to make camp for the night.

We ended up on the top row of the stands; we huddled together for warmth and didn’t fall asleep until around 2am. I was so glad I wasn’t doing this on my own.

 

 

We woke up at regular intervals as the howling gusts of wind blew over our heads. We probably got around three hours of interrupted shut eye, but we were dry and it wasn’t bitterly cold – the layers definitely paid off.

I’m so glad I don’t have to do that every night. But so many people have no choice.

We lucked out with the unusually mild and dry weather in October – yes it was blustery, but at least we had each other and we felt safe.

Manchester’s homeless have no such luxuries.

They are not safe, many don’t have the company or solidarity of others and they definitely don’t have a cricket club bar open until midnight to hold off the cold.

Whilst it heightened our awareness, we can in no way say that we fully understand the true experience of homelessness. If anything, it only raised more questions than it answered.

We can only empathise.

Whilst our experience was in no way truly like that of a homeless individual on the streets of Manchester, it was never designed as such.

Founder of CEO Sleepout, Andrew Preston, told Mancunian Matters what he aims to achieve at all of these events. MM’s interviews with Andrew and Kate Allison (CEO of the charity MASH, who was also sleeping out that night) will be online this weekend.