EXCLUSIVE: @HugoSugg comes out from behind #HugosEarthquake & explains why #TentDeath matters so much to him.

74 year old Cardon Banfield, who tragically passed away and decomposed in a tent this summer, is the latest victim of the shambles that is Worcester City and Worcestershire county’s homeless provision.

I am SICK of not hearing someone taking part-responsibility around Mr Banfield’s death, why homelessness is so bad and the ever-rotating rhetoric that money is running out and we need more.
We all know that services are being reduced, we have all seen the effects of it – but homelessness isn’t like bin collections or road markings… This is PEOPLE’S LIVES and we should respect them. Yet, homeless services get decimated by an austerity agenda which has seen numerous deaths, and worse, suicides from around the country and in Worcestershire.

This is not me or my Campaign sticking up for one provider or another, siding with just one argument or not able to listen to different arguments – this is a simple call for justice: Justice for Cardon Banfield and all the couple of hundred of homeless people around Worcestershire who suffer at the hands of untrusting workers, struggling services, incompetency at the hands of Elected Politicians and tax-paid Civil Servants and lack of co-ordination.

Over the last five years, we have had a legacy of the Supporting People programme sitting in the Worcestershire Homelessness Strategy, but during that period the large amounts of money diminished and co-ordination of services suffered the biggest blow. The Worcestershire LinkUp Database was a place where all clients who accessed homeless support would have their story, support and records in one place and available to all services went in 2014. This removed the joined up approach which Government recommended, Serious Case Reviews have pointed out and other Local Authority areas have in place.

Last year when ‘Hugo’s Earthquake’ was at infancy stage, I campaigned very hard against the City Council to firstly apologise for the comment that rough sleeping is a lifestyle choice but just as importantly, get a Homeless Forum which would join up all the services and put them around a table to discuss provision.
Worcester has a very high number of housing and support services per capita, but some of the highest homeless figures for a Shire per capita… There are many duplications of services but also gaps in provision and this isn’t good enough because vulnerable people are suffering – and have suffered.

It is indisputable that Cardon should have had better support around him – namely an Outreach Team but it tragically got decimated between February and April 2016 by Worcester City Council. CCP obtained the contract and refused to challenge it, knowing full well that rough sleeping is a huge issue in the City because of the 2015 November rough sleeper count figures. The horrific circumstances of someone decomposing in a tent and smelling so bad only then someone noticed, cannot go without part or whole responsibility being taken by Worcester Conservatives who ran the City Council at the time of the Contract being written, CCP for not having him on their books or Maggs Day Centre for categorically failing to pass on information or signpost to get Mr Banfield help for his problems.

Rough sleeping isn’t just about trying to get someone into a spare bed, but instead trying to build a positive relationship with them so they can, when they see fit and not the worker, get support and help for their issues. By both results and research, an Outreach Team with qualified workers (both from experience and formal training) is the only sustainable method of supporting Britain’s rough sleepers into accommodation and getting achievable, measurable outcomes for them.

Although I kick myself for using that word ‘outcomes’, because it suggests vulnerable people who are 6 times more likely to commit suicide compared to the general population, are just pawns in a game of workers getting wages at the end of the month. Where has the humanity in the system gone? We have a collection of people whose first priority is the money, and not the homeless person bedding down on the concrete pillow that night. That is fundamentally wrong, and in Worcestershire at least – I will work tirelessly hard to change it.

Mr Banfield might have indeed died from natural causes, however the system that the taxpayers contribute to let him down because no one raised the question of “where’s Cardon lately?”. That very question epitomises the massive issue I have with Worcester City Council Politicians & Officers, CCP and Maggs:

Maggs’ Chief Executive Mel Kirk claims that the organisation doesn’t keep track of their service users because of “lack of statutory funding”, CCP’s Deputy Chief Executive Dave Jones admitted to me on in a phone conversation that they did not know of Cardon Banfield in their new ‘Homeless Prevention Service’ and Worcester City Council claim they just didn’t know of him at all.

When you are paid to deliver a service, and you are in an area of work as human-centered as homelessness support is, IT IS DISGRACEFUL AND INEXCUSABLE to single-handedly or collectively hide behind money or ignorance at the expense of a human being’s life and consequent loss of. And yes, I will name and shame these people and proud to blow the lid on it – because if only;

  • Worcester City Council’s Housing Department (led by Nina Warrington) had initiated this Homeless Forum earlier, wrote a Tender which was fit for the issues Worcester faces in terms of rough sleeping, but in line with the money available and facilitated some sort of information-sharing hub…
  • Maggs Day Centre had a culture amongst staff of knowing who they are working with, asked them simple but information-heavy questions and reported them on a update-able database and
  • CCP spending time getting to know service-users, their sleeping or crowd hotspots and not administering the culture of ‘they will come to us when they need help, but if they don’t they can stay out there’

we might have had a better and healthier outcome for an elderly gentleman sleeping on the banks of the River Severn.

In their Contract written and awarded by Worcester City Council, CCP have got to legally deliver a “light touch” service to rough sleepers and “reduce accident admissions to A&E departments” – but neither ‘light touch’ or ‘accident’ are defined, and that leaves the terms open to abuse, interpretation and lack of accountability.
Having these obscurities in a service that deals with upset, traumatised and vulnerable people, many of whom don’t know the system anyway, is only ever going to run reasonably well (whilst being very high risk) for a limited time.

The simple facts are; the Homeless Forum I successfully campaigned for should have been set up earlier and working with agencies to discuss duplications and gaps, the Contract should have been scrutinised by Political Parties before authorising, a better analysis of services for rough sleepers happened by the Council Officers, Maggs Day Centre should have kept even a small record of Mr Banfield’s movements and connections (and referred to CCP), and CCP should have publically defined what “light touch” meant, and if that has changed in light of Cardon Banfield’s death.

There are many people who have ties to – what I called it at the beginning of this piece –  shambles of homeless services in Worcester City and the county as a whole, and I will spend whatever amount of time, for however long I need to make sure the situation is rectified. Nothing anyone does can bring Cardon back, but we can make sure he did not die and left to decompose and rot in vain.

Just in the last few days, I have personally submitted for a Freedom of Information Request of the CCP bid and promises of delivery to the Contract, initiated the Contract to go to the City Council’s Scrutiny Panel immediately by the Worcester Conservative Party and written to the Worcestershire written, televised and radio press about this issue.

I graduated with a Youth and Community Work Degree on Thursday because I stand up for the ones who have little or no voice. Communities, individuals or young people it doesn’t matter – what matters is a human life worth the same as the next person’s and that if one gets lost, a responsibility and accountability lies somewhere. It’s in my values, ethics and morals to stand up for a gentleman who made mistakes, didn’t behave the best but who got pushed out because of many different reasons but to make it all worse – was left to die in the most disgusting and vile way in a modern society. No one should end their life like that, ever.

I will not back down, I will not silence, I will not hold back and I promise a Worcestershire Homeless Forum, a better Outreach Service and Justice for Cardon will be delivered eventually. And whilst someone sleeping in a tent should not happen in this country, a death on our streets is abhorrent, disgraceful and has no place ever in Worcestershire or beyond.







#TentDeath Update: FOI Request to @myworcester to look over @CCProjects / @CCPWorcs Contract.

The Freedom of Information Act comes in handy to a Campaigning organisation, because we can use it to challenge and argue our point.

Hugo’s Earthquake believes that Worcester City Council has written a bad Tender Contract for the homeless in Worcester, at the expense of £500,000 (over 2 years) of which County Community Projects (Gloucester) bidded and was awarded. As we have previously revealed, the Single Person and Childless Couples Homeless Prevention Support Service Tender Document the City Council produced near the beginning of 2016 practically decimates the Homeless Outreach Service which was existent under the previous WHIT Contract.

We believe that due of the lack of a comprehensive Outreach Service or communication system, Cardon Banfield was not known to Worcester City Council Housing Team or CCP in the weeks and months leading up to his death. Maggs Day Centre admit that they did know of him, but did not pass this information on or indeed signpost Mr Banfield to other agencies which could have assisted him.

FACT: There is now no comprehensive, dedicated outreach service for rough sleepers in any district in Worcestershire.
The Tender to which CCP was awarded states in black and white:

“The Provider will ensure resources are to be targeted at those newly arrived to the streets. Entrenched Rough Sleepers are to receive a “light touch” service until ready to engage with more preventative services that will support them from the streets and into long term accommodation.”

But we see that there are many faults in this tiny section of the Tender:

  • Why is this just ‘new to the street’, and not the more entrenched rough sleepers which arguably need the service more?
  • What does this term “light touch” ACTUALLY  mean, and can either the Council or CCP publicly define it?
  • The idea that rough sleepers should be given ‘light touch’ service, “until ready to engage”? It is a fact that rough sleepers are the least trustworthy when it comes to engaging with services. The very fact the Council’s view on the rising rough sleeper problem is to give minimal help and assume they will come for help is disgusting, because these humans deserve the help and support which will ensure they have a semi-recognisable quality of life. Rough sleepers will tend to only engage with services when a strong, trusting relationship is developed with the support worker.
  • “From the streets into long term accommodation” – but without a comprehensive Outreach Service, how can CCP work with other agencies to get these homeless from the streets into beds?
  • In the article about #TentDeath, it was reported in the Worcester News that “if members of the general public are concerned about someone sleeping rough then they can report them via Streetlink – call 0300 500 0914 or log on to http://www.streetlink.org.uk. A support worker will attend the reported spot within 24 hours of referral.“, however there is ZERO mention of an out of hours service in the Tender – so we’re asking the following uncomfortable question to be answered immediately:

    If a rough sleeper is reported in Worcestershire via Streetlink on a Friday or Saturday, when will a support worker from CCP attend?

All of these questions and statements need addressing quickly, because this is £500,000 of Worcester taxpayers money which is being spent. To try and help answer some of these ourselves, the Founder of Hugo’s Earthquake this morning (1st November 2016) submitted a Freedom of Information Request into Worcester City Council’s FOI department. This FOI is asking for the very agreement that CCP wrote and won against the Tender to deliver the new service. Hugo Sugg explains why this request has been submitted:

“Rest assured that if the Council decide not to release this document because of ‘commercial confidentiality’ or other legal reason, we will use the death of Mr Banfield to gain the truth as to what CCP promised and is delivering. This is NOT, I repeat not, because we are using this man’s tragic death as a scapegoat for our Campaign – but rather making sure Cardon did not die in vain, and there remains a high risk that someone else could die on our streets before the winter of 2016 is over.

It is my ambition to ensure our most vulnerable on the streets are properly looked after and that their lives aren’t put in danger because of a political ideology which sees ‘open market competition’ decrease a service just to save money. These are human beings, and it is a very sad fact that Mr Banfield might not have died in the circumstances he did (left to decompose) if there had been a comprehensive outreach service which knew of his whereabouts. I, personally, are campaigning for justice to be delivered in the name of Cardon, an immediate review of the Single Person and Childless Couples Homeless Prevention Support Service and Worcester City Council to change its stance that rough sleepers should not have to approach services just to receive assistance.

There is a toxic cultural position which Worcester City Council Homelessness Department has which puts the blame on the very people they are paid to assist by Worcester residents. This organisational cultural position was exposed in its glory last December over the Scarfgate row which saw the Council Housing Manager state that “rough sleeping was a lifestyle choice that people make” (hear the organic soundclip at the bottom of the article or click here), and then backtrack days later. Although a public apology was given, even on the Authority’s own website, the sentiment of own choice lives on in Council Officers’ work
Both CCP, Worcester City Council and all other agencies paid for by public money must remember to be transparent and accountable to their bosses – which are NOT the Local Authority, politicians or charities but instead the person who pays their taxes every month from their hard-earned wage packet.”

Whilst #TentDeath has been extremely tragic and really hit the public and services of Worcester hard, it is only right that people are held accountable as to what services are available to help our residents – any of whom could be homeless or rough sleeping at any point in time.


Pictured at the top of this article is the Freedom of Information Act request to Worcester City Council which Hugo Sugg submitted about the Tender.


Exciting times here at #HugosEarthquake! We have a new email system and are building our team and locations across the UK. So far, we have the following Campaign Hubs:

Currently, we are working really hard to build connections in those areas and get our messages out there! If you have any connections in those areas, please do help us out and give the Campaign Leader an email by clicking on their name above.

Keep up to date with the VERY LATEST: Twitter @HugosEarthquake.

I will be doing a Campaign Video tomorrow on Facebook with EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK at our new Campaign Aims which will be out Monday.
Keep an eye out!

Email: hugo@hugosearthquake.org

#HugosEarthquake: #ImPartOfTheEarthquake Campaign Team

Hey there guys, just a quick Campaign update – taking a breather from #SomewhereInSummer – to let you know about some exciting news that deserves its own Campaign blog post!

So, I am very honoured to announce that I’m not the only one who makes #HugosEarthquake happen but instead I have a team who proudly state ‘#ImPartOfTheEarthquake’!
Each of them bring amazing skills qualities to the Campaign and together will help grow our messages and really help cause shockwaves in society.

Without further ado, in no particular order, let me introduce them:


University of Gloucester student, Jess, has come on board with the Campaign and wants to raise awareness of mental health and then link it in with homelessness. We have shared Starbucks at 2am, whilst chatting about everything and anything!

Jess is a really passionate supporter of the Campaign and this has inspired Jess’ own Campaign for mental health awareness.


An ex-service user and Chair of YAB of the Supported Housing for Young People’s Project in Hereford, Seb is dedicated and passionate to the cause of youth homelessness, winning the TPAS Tenant Of The Year: Central Region in 2015. When not working, you can find Seb volunteering for SHYPP, an organisation very close to his heart!

Seb has been a key supporter of the Campaign since the beginning and I am very pleased to have him on board helping to make the Campaign more publicised!


Andrew is a good friend of mine from the National Youth Reference Group and is such a passionate campaigner around mental health and Trans awareness.

As someone who has experienced homelessness himself, Andrew is an excellent contact to have and has the best interests of the people he meets in the centre of his personality. Andrew has been integral to the Campaign messages, and I am very proud to have him working on the cause.

Watch his amazing, inspirational awareness video here: Awareness by Andrew Kinnear.


After Tahriesche Tandy messaged the Campaign page asking for assistance on how else he and his uncle could help the homeless in his local area, we shared a lot in common including our University! We started talking and Tahriesche demonstrated an immense passion for homelessness and wanted to learn more.

Focusing on the physical work to homeless people, Tahriesche has done sleep-outs with the homeless to raise awareness and will add a new dimension to the Campaign!



Each of the volunteers have immense passion in their field and together will make the Campaign work better, more effectively and also support their work too so it is a two-way relationship. I’m very honoured to have these as a Campaign Team who are working so hard to give the homeless a voice, the moment they lose it.

If you would like to help out with the Campaign and spread its messages also, please get in contact with me using the form below, and I will reply as soon as possible:

Thank you for all your support, it really is invaluable!


#SomewhereInSummer: Media plea for summer rough sleep count

More media coverage has come out publicising my #SomewhereInSummer Campaign.
Worcester News reporter James Connell wrote an article which echoes my question ‘why don’t we do a summer rough sleep count?’. Homelessness is ever-changing and this isn’t reflected in compulsory Autumn counts the Local Authority has to do.

Official statistics show that homelessness is rising in the country, and Worcester:

“The Rough Sleeping Statistics for Autumn 2015, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, recorded that rough sleeping was up, rising in England from 2,744 cases in 2014 to 3,569 in 2015.

Estimates therefore suggest that around 825 more people were rough sleeping in 2015 than 2014 in England, a rise of 30 per cent.

In Worcester there were 27 rough sleepers identified in 2015 (up from 22 the previous year)”

A good friend and key supporter of #HugosEarthquake, CEO of St Paul’s Hostel Jonathan Sutton, confirmed to myself and the newspaper that he would fully support the idea. Worcester City Council have also publicly declared they would be willing to assist anyone planning another count.

I would like to call on supporters of this idea to sign the following official petition launched by this Campaign: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/SomewhereInSummer.

Read the full Worcester News article here

Thank you for supporting #SomewhereInSummer! We are changing lives every day, together.

Follow me on TwitterLike the Facebook Page or drop me an email.

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT: #ImPartOfTheEarthquake

Being a Grassroots Awareness Campaign means that it isn’t someone at the top who dictates or leads on their own – it means it’s a team effort!  I want you to show everyone that you support raising awareness of homelessness.
Copy the following when you post and tag your friends on Facebook/Twitter.

I support raising awareness of homelessness because →

• Print out the And I Support image from this blog post,
• Write your name,
• Write the reason you support the Campaign,
• Hold it up and get someone to take a snap,
• Upload it to Facebook and/or Twitter,
• Include the Hashtag #ImPartOfTheEarthquake
• Tag 5 friends or family in the post and
• Be part of an ever-growing homelessness awareness campaign!

THIS is Jess Anderson, a 20 year old Social Work BSc Honours student at the University of Gloucestershire (Worcester won against Glous. in Varsity AGAIN this year!). Today, she publicly declared that she supports #HugosEarthquake because:

“Individuals living on the street and do not have a home, need support for another chance at life! #Bethechangeyouwishtoseeintheworld”

Jess I support

Campaign supporter and advocate, Jess Anderson, posted her ‘I Support’ via #ImPartOfTheEarthquake on Facebook.

If you would like the campaign social media to share your #ImPartOfTheEarthquake picture, please do tag Hugo Sugg – Homeless Campaigner #HugosEarthquake on Facebook or www.twitter.com/HugoSugg.

Thanks as ever for supporting the campaign in its 8th month!!!


#SomewhereInSummer Campaign

As summer approaches and the temperature hits record highs, #HugosEarthquake launches its very own ‘Somewhere in Summer’ campaign to help raise awareness of those who suffer on the streets in heat.

There is often much coverage about the plight of homeless people during winter, and calls for support during those difficult months – but it’s still difficult during sunny weather too. ‘Somewhere in Summer’ aims to bring homelessness to the front of people’s minds and address the horrible exclusion that the homeless face.

It’s a fact that people are made homeless every day and society in general seems to take notice mostly during winter – but homeless people are always ‘bedding down’ Somewhere in Summer.

SUPPORT ‘Somewhere in Summer’ by signing this petition to give to people whose job it is to have responsibility for the homeless:

Homelessness is something that can happen year round, and #HugosEarthquake aims to breakdown the stigma attached to homelessness, at any time of the year. Please support this important campaign as we reach the peak of the summer season.

Thank you for supporting #SomewhereInSummer.

FOLLOW #HugosEarthquake on Twitter and Facebook!
Email me directly here.

I’m still around… In the background!

Hey guys, hope you are well!

Just to quickly let you know that I am alive and still here. Because of the sheer amount of University work I have at the moment, I am taking a back step to the Campaign until June. I feel bad for this, but I want to complete and round off 4 years of stress, panic, fun, education and something where all the odds were stacked against me! University has really been a character-building experience, and it’s something I will never forget!

My dissertation (final year big study) is based on the topic of how to be an effective social activist which – in simpler terms – is how to campaign and make it work. So as you can imagine, I’m really thinking about the campaign and the future on how to take it forward… And would welcome any suggestions if you have any! Drop me a line if you do.

Meanwhile, I am still around if you have any questions and I will reply however output from me will be limited until after May. I hope you understand my supporters and just to let you know – I really do appreciate all the support you give to #HugosEarthquake!

Take care and see you soon,
Hugo x

Campaign Response of #HugosEarthquake to #Budget2016 Homeless Announcement

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has today set out his UK Budget for 2016, and I watched with a lump in my throat about what he would say about homelessness.

Announced was £115,000,000 to help the homeless and this is how he told the British public: “…because under this government we’re not prepared to let people be left behind, I am also announcing a major new package of support worth over £115 million to support those who are homeless and reduce rough sleeping.”

I do welcome this step towards ‘reducing’ homelessness, however I think there was a major underlying disregard to the subject. Just reducing rough sleeping doesn’t strike me that it is a top priority for the Government, and Osborne spent just 10 seconds of his 1 hour 3 minute Budget statement announcing his plan. Looking at the Budget 2016 Red Book on pg. 42, you can see in a bit more detail a breakdown of this spending and for convenience, I have copied it here:

Budget 2016 on Homelessness

It looks nice, it looks fairly glossy but what exactly does it mean? The Government want to build 2,000 new units of accommodation across the UK which house the most vulnerable homeless people but where these are is unclear. Because of the way homeless statistics are collected and fudged, I would imagine places like Worcester or Hereford will get a very small, if any, consideration for this plan. Rural areas like the two Shires mentioned don’t tend to have high rates of homelessness compared to urban cities – according to Government but whether this is a true reflection of the real picture, I would suspect not.

Because many homeless support services in Britain are commissioned through Local Authorities, it means that they rely on Councils to have sufficient Central funding to then pass this money onto Third Sector organisations. Local Authorities spending is going to be cut even more over the next 4 years until 2020 which puts housing support services under threat. I know a large number of services working with homeless people in the UK have really struggled since 2010 and the Government’s Austerity Programme came into force, and it has made the support for the homeless become less quality and even less quantity.

Today, I spoke to Worcester News Political Editor Tom Edwards about these proposals and through his Special Report on Budget 2016 I echoed what I said above:

“I’m happy with the £115 million for homelessness but we don’t know the details, or where it will be spent yet. Two thousand extra units for homeless people is positive, but they need to realise it’s not just the big cities with this problem. Yes, it’s promising, but budgets say one thing and then do another five minutes later – let’s see.”

With some support of what I said, Leader of the Opposition (Labour) Jeremy Corbyn said the following in his Budget response immediately after Osborne delivered.

“Whilst we welcome the money that will be set aside for homelessness. It is the product of under-investment, under-funding of Local Authorities, not building enough council housing and not regulating the private rented sector that has lead to this crisis. We need to tackle the issue of homelessness by saying that everyone in this society deserves a safe roof over their head”

(Click for video, this is mentioned from 10.21mins)

Whilst I support most of what Corbyn has said except just saying everyone deserves a safe roof doesn’t directly tackle the issue, it just sets the end result. At least he spent slightly more time mentioning this under-discussed issue on Parliament time than George!

A number of key priorities form my Homeless Awareness Campaign, and they are some of the many factors in the homelessness topic. In no particular order, they consist of:

  • Education for young people around homelessness.
  • The general public to realise the realities of homelessness and rough sleeping.
  • Anyone can become homeless so educating around how to reduce the risk is vital.
  • A need for better support to current homeless young people, as they are potentially more vulnerable than their adult equivalent.
  • Changing public perception to homelessness and stating rough sleeping is not the only way people sleep at night.
  • Making the public aware of the complex legislation around homelessness and housing for people who fit the ‘priority need’ and ‘non-priority need’ categories and
  • “Getting homelessness into the hearts of MP’s, like it’s in the heart of me”.

Both Labour and Conservatives today have ignored the web of issues which fall under the homeless umbrella and that justifies even more why my Campaign and those of agencies/organisations in the sector exist and continue to challenge.
My statement in response to the Budget is not as comprehensive as other organisations, however it really sets out why I remain unhappy about the commitments made by politicians in this Parliament on both sides of the House.

Through my Campaign, I call on the Government to instruct Local Authorities look at the empty properties that are in their area and find ways of how to make these habitable for the homeless to stay when they have no other safe haven. This would see less derelict buildings and money actually generated through housing benefit and other financial support accessible for homeless people – but more importantly more independence and stability for those who have for the most, become homeless unexpectedly and remain hidden out of society.

I will continue this utterly vital work alongside and with support from St Paul’s Hostel CEO Jonathan Sutton, MP for Worcester Mr Robin Walker and Strategic Housing Manager of Worcester City Council Nina Warrington to help make the homeless environment in the Worcester area more resourced and better networked so we can support the homeless more. This includes my number one priority for Worcester City and that is establishing a sector-run Homeless Forum, with stakeholders, including service users, sitting on.

Having a Homeless Forum will mean that duplication of housing and homeless services would be less likely to happen, and any gaps in the homeless provision found and filled. The voice of the homeless population also need to form part of this Forum, and working this to be championed by all agencies.

Until we know a comprehensive breakdown of this £115m spending committed for tackling homelessness in Britain, there is only large speculation about where and how it will be spent. I will look very carefully at any news coming out of Government sources around this issue and react accordingly. It is very promising that the DCLG Inquiry into Homelessness is moving quickly and they have accepted the #HugosEarthquake official response to their written evidence and this will hopefully affect the decisions made in the coming weeks and months.

Thank you for reading, and I welcome any comments or feedback about this response.

Hugo Sugg
Email: hugosugg@gmail.com
Follow the #HugosEarthquake Campaign on Twitter.


Published: 16th March 2016 – 22.30 GMT

Good deed, right reasons, a mixture of emotion.

This is a reflection of an experience I’ve had tonight:

So tonight, Sunday 4th of January, I get a Facebook message from a friend at the University of Worcester asking if I could help her confront her anxieties. She walked past a homeless person earlier on and she wanted to give him a blanket and pillow – because it’s the first time she had seen him and didn’t want to let him get cold.

For me, this message was on the back of the awareness campaign I have been doing. It’s amazing for me to see that people are reacting to the Campaign and doing something helpful, because that’s what I want. But what I didn’t want was the feelings that came with this pride.
I was all up for going out and meeting her before we went and talked to this homeless person, but when I got there I saw him and my heart sank a little.

I lent down and he jumped, I put my hand on his leg and said ‘I’m here to help, not harm you’… He seemed startled and I was getting over my own anxieties about talking to a rough sleeper who I had never seen before (working in the hostels in a place, you get to know the characters). My friend watched as I did this, as I didn’t want her to be put in an awkward position. As I talked to him I felt this immense feeling of emotion, emotion I can’t describe exactly… It was like guilt, shame, despair.

The reason? Because there is still something that effects me when I see a rough sleeper. I’m guilty to an extent of walking past them and not paying them attention, and that is mainly because of self-pride. But I know that I slept rough, and I needed warmth. But what did he want? It was wrong to assume in a way that he needed a blanket and pillow – but there was a bit of common sense that kicked in, especially as it is quite cold outside.

As we continued talking, the feelings changed, they grew stronger then they went, then they came back etc. I don’t know why, I don’t know how but I knew that this conversation gave not only myself and my friend comfort but also for him, dignity and respect.

It was fascinating talking and listening to him, and I found myself really engaged in his story which he couldn’t wait to get out. This was really amazing and reminded me of when people ask about my homeless experiences. Not because I am self-centered, but because sharing something like this (as proven by this very event), hits home to people and makes them think about things.

My friend didn’t quite know what to do about the whole situation, and a big part of me didn’t, because I never had this interaction the night I slept in the cashpoint lobby.
There is a sense of loneliness when sleeping that night on the pavement. You lose your voice. I saw this tonight… There were a few people who walked past and they did nothing, didn’t even look even – some looked and awkwardly smiled, others looked and didn’t care at all.

All of this reconfirmed to me what and why I was doing this, we need to get better at dealing with the problem but we also need help each other. The fact my friend asked me to support her was amazing and why I went out and met her, even though I was in bed and ready for sleep. Not because it was me, it was for her.
This Campaign challenges me in a way that I need to reflect upon a lot more: ‘What do I do to help?’. Yes I talk about it, write about it and tell people – but what more can I do to help the people I’m giving a voice too also comes into question.

I’m writing this reflection because the feelings were overpowering an made me think about the whole Campaign. Actually there is a huge element that I need to become less uptight because of my past. I need to let myself go and do what needs to happen so they have another night of survival.

I hope my friend will share her feelings about tonight’s experience with me at some point because I want to know what it was like for her. I have a different take on all of this due to my past experience, she has a fresh view on this.

I hope this Campaign doesn’t just help one person, but many and I dream that we can all make a little difference every day of our lives to better the society we live in, and the people who fall short of the privilege we have.

Lying in bed and writing this, I know that I will be going to sleep not feeling immensely proud of tonight, but instead feeling the same heavy feelings I felt when I bent down and introduced myself…
Those feelings drive me to keep on helping and supporting people, be them the homeless or general public like yourself. I don’t take pleasure from giving a blanket to someone, because they’re still in that position. Whether they want to be or not, they are still there.

We made a true impact on someone tonight. That’s a step in the right direction. It makes a big impact on someone who has so little, sleeping in a doorway of a supermarket in the centre of Worcester, but we all felt the impact in some way or another.

I’m sleeping tonight not with a smile, but a determination that this Campaign is working and will continue to work for as long as you and I drive it. Thank you for supporting me, the Campaign and giving a voice to people who automatically lose it when they are forced onto the streets.

Happy New Year. Goodnight x