Sleeping Out for the Welcome Organisation
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
On Friday 29 November, this year's Sleep Out fundraiser for The Welcome Organisation in Belfast took place. The concept is that you volunteer to 'sleep out' for the night and ask people to sponsor you for doing this. Welcome are our charity of the year for 2019 so some of the LIT team decided to take part in the event.
We set up our fundraising pages and started to plan what we would need to wear and bring along on the night. Some colleagues even arranged a bake sale to help boost our fundraising - adding over £160 to the pot!
We arrived at Belfast City Airport at 9pm to be met by Kieran from Welcome. We all set up our 'beds' for the night - cardboard boxes and sleeping bags - outside the main terminal, and got to know some of the other participants, including airport staff and teams from Belfast Live and Lighthouse Communications. If you're familiar with the layout of the airport, we were directly outside the main terminal doors under the shelter of a large metal canopy.
The wonderful folk at the airport put on a BBQ and we were proud to say that LIT sponsored the hot drinks and snacks. It was definitely a little strange to be at the airport with no passengers or flights. For the first couple of hours it was pretty easy to stay warm and active, while listening to Erasure and watching some of the younger participants playing football.
Glenn Hand, who took part in the fundraiser, said, 'We were all together and got a feeling of warmth and safety from each other, but I couldn’t help thinking how tough it must be for someone on their own on the street with no one to turn to, and how lonely that must be'.
By 1am things were getting a bit quieter and getting a lot colder. We had a light shower of rain but thankfully it didn't last. Some folk fell asleep pretty quickly while others chatted and downed more coffees. Those who didn't sleep did learn that the Sydenham Bypass never ever stops!! No matter how many layers we had on, it was bitterly cold and we were lucky to have the brief respite afforded by a bathroom break in the airport terminal.
At 4am passengers were starting to arrive for the first flights of the day so we had to pack up at around 4.30 as we were in the way, not least as some of us were sleeping directly in front of the luggage trolleys. Zoe Anderson noted how she felt at the end of the sleep out - 'At this point I just wanted a hot bath and my bed. A sobering thought when I remembered that if I was actually homeless I would have none of this'.
Team LIT would like to thank everyone who supported us before, during and after the event.