Supporters and residents gathered at Y Base in Central Milton Keynes last Friday [16th March 2018] for SleepEasy, YMCA’s national campaign to highlight the issue of youth homelessness and raise funds to support the vital work of local YMCAs, despite forecasts for snow and temperatures plunging to -4C in the early hours of the morning.
The evening started with a joint event hosted by YMCA Milton Keynes and Citizens:mk – to launch its ‘House the Homeless’ campaign. During a panel discussion, involving Cllr Pete Marland, Leader MK Council, Gamiel Yafai, Chair of MK Homelessness Partnership, and Simon Green, CEO YMCA Milton Keynes, Citizens:mk members were able to ask questions and learn a lot more about the complexities of addressing the homeless situation in Milton Keynes. This was followed by an Assembly and series of contributions, including testimonies from two YMCA residents about their personal experience of being homeless and the showing, on video, of a moving new song about homelessness by pupils of Summerfield School.
Citizens:mk also presented Gamiel with a ‘Citizens Gold Award’ for the work that the Partnership had undertaken to date to address the homeless situation and pledged the support of its member organisations to work with the Partnership and MK Council in achieving their goal to eradicate rough sleeping in Milton Keynes by 2021.
As the majority of the participants in the Assembly headed for home shortly after 10:00pm a group of some 20 YMCA supporters and residents headed outside to start their night sleeping in temporary cardboard shelters or in small tents. The temperature did drop as predicted and rain soon turned to snow – leaving a light dusting across the encampment as people emerged in the grey dawn, grateful that they had a home to go to where they could thaw out: unlike the people still sleeping rough in Milton Keynes.
YMCA Milton Keynes would like to thank everyone who slept out – and their sponsors who so generously made donations; to Truby’s Garden Tea Room for feeding the sleepers on the Friday evening; to Sainsbury’s CMK for the breakfast on Saturday morning; to Citizens:mk and representatives from its member organisations for organising and participating in the discussion and Assembly – and also donating to SleepEasy – and entertainment from Tinkers Lane band that rounded off the evening in style.
You can still support YMCA Milton Keynes SleepEasy and help raise vital funds for the work it carries out with formerly homeless young people by going to https://localgiving.org/appeal/YMCAMKAppeal/.