No, I’m not a zombie, although I do feel like one sometimes with the early-morning baking.
Back in July 2018 at a gloriously sunny networking lunch I realised that this was the year that I could finally take part in a YMCA Burton #sleepout.
And I didn’t stop there. If I was going to spend the night in a cardboard box to support the homeless, then I wanted to the experience to be as close as it could be to the real thing. No halfway measures here - I decided I had to go #xtreme. Which means, if you’ve not heard of #sleepout before, sleeping in a graveyard in the centre of Burton.
Thankfully some friends at the meeting also decided to join me. Phew!
What it’s like to join #Sleepout for the YMCA
The graveyard belongs to St Modwen’s church, in Burton. So, the Graveyard MadOnes team was born. We set ourselves a target of £1000, fundraising through our networking, clients and friends. Every penny goes to the YMCA to help the homeless. I’m pleased to say we surpassed the target just as we were starting our night in the graveyard.
Well, some of our team were out like lights, but not all. That night we experienced torrential rain – one of the largest storms of the year - which was causing some issues. My friend and neighbour, with less than 90 minutes on the clock, had to give up and spend the night in the church, due to the huge puddle in her sleeping bag (before you wonder it was definitely rain related). Her logic was that the homeless would have gone and found better shelter than a cardboard box.
But, me being me, I felt I couldn’t do this. Why?
Firstly, I felt I couldn’t as I’d organised the Graveyard MadOnes team.
Secondly, I’d gone #xtreme for a reason. Not every homeless person can find some shelter and security.
I stayed in my soggy box until about 5am when I needed the loo, and escaped to the dry and warmth of the church.
We were fortunate that the church had stayed open for us all night, so if we wanted a hot drink, the loo, or in the case of some of the MadOnes, a better place to spend the night than their soggy box, then we could. This, of course, is something that is not always available to the homeless.
How did I feel after a very wet night’s sleep in a cardboard box?
Cold, tired, exhilarated and proud.
The first two, I would say, are not a surprise to most people. Probably the fourth isn’t either. But I bet you weren’t expecting to see exhilarated. I’d accomplished something challenging and I couldn’t wait to do it again. Yes, I wanted to do it again.
Was I right to feel like that? After all, I’d spent the night in a soggy box, was about to go home to bake breads that had been proving overnight for delivery to our stockists, and then I was heading to my snuggly, warm, dry bed.
But I wouldn’t be the only person doing this. A number of homeless people go to work each day. You, as their co-workers, may not even be aware that they have no place to call home, or the issues they face in life outside of work, often through random life events and no fault of their own.
And now it’s time to do it again
It’s now 2019. I’d kept most of the Friday night’s throughout October and November free in my diary in readiness for #sleepout2019 - even to the extent that I didn’t book a ticket for the #lovebiz awards. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting glammed up and enjoy a good night out like most, but my priorities are different this year, and I am looking forward to testing myself again.
Not only do I have some of the MadOnes joining me again, this time we have added some new members to the team - a number of my fellow scout leaders from 1st Mercury Scouts in Burntwood.
How can you help support YMCA Burton #Sleepout2019?
There’s a couple of ways you can help support YMCA Burton this year.
You can sign up to #sleepout2019 yourself. Remember, you don’t have to go #xtreme, there are other options.
If this feels like a step too far, you can support my team – the Graveyard MadOnes - by sponsoring us here. This year we’ve doubled our target to £2000, so we really need your support to hit it.
You can also cheer us on, and watch us through the night, on our Facebook page - @GraveyardMadOnes. We really appreciate your support.