Campaigner bunks down in a doorway to turn spotlight on homelessness
- Credit: Archant
Campaigner and 50 Backpacks Vision leader Simon Crowson is sleeping rough on the streets of Wisbech tonight to draw attention to the town’s homeless.
“It is not about raising funds but one of our followers just called by to show his support and whilst he was here pinged £1000 into our account,” said Mr Crowson, known locally as Spike.
“Then to cheer us up even more, one of the families that we rehomed recently came along with some hot chocolate and mince pies. Thank you all for your support.”
He said with the change in Covid regulations he was not allowed to sleep.
“Instead, we will be exercising for seven hours from midnight to adhere to social distancing at all times,” he said.
“The forecast is freezing and other than essential first aid equipment we will only have what our rough sleepers have.
“No hot food, no hot drinks unless they are donated to us in the street, no luxury items and we are very likely to be subjected to some kind of abuse as many of the rough sleepers are.”
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He said the Christmas night sleep out was also partly to respect those that didn't make it through this year “and the people that have been let down by the systems and continue to sleep rough on our streets”.
He said that in 2020 “we as a community have come together like no other during unprecedented times and we as a community have made a difference to people's lives thousands of times”.
Mr Crowson said: “Although numbers continue to grow, we as a community have provided 32 people with long term homes and ongoing support.
“We have provided all the essential items for the rough sleepers to keep them warm and dry (not all went into hotels).
“We have re-educated, re-trained, provided Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Neuro Linguistical Programming Therapy, life coaching, PMA classes, 10,000's of hot drinks, 1000's of hot meals, over 5000 food parcels, 100's of books for the children, 900 Easter eggs for the young and the old and 1,000's of plants for the elderly to keep them busy in their gardens.
“We have also provided toys for the children this Christmas, Christmas presents for the homeless and families in crisis, Christmas food hampers for families in crisis and the people we have re-homed.
“In total we have supplied well over 100 tonnes of food. “We have not turned anyone away that is genuinely in need and continue to work with some of the most difficult cases when no one else would.
“50 Backpacks is rapidly becoming the first port of call for anyone that needs a little help. We have even helped the FDC and WTC councils when they were unable to provide the help themselves.
“If anything in 2020 needs to be highlighted it should be what an amazing bunch of supporters you all are because we, as a community, have achieved so much this year and we have done it all together and for free”
Mr Crowson said: “Millions of pounds of funding spent in other ways in our community has not achieved what we have.”