Wiltshire Police Voluntary Cadets took part in a sleep out challenge to raise awareness and money for those who will be spending this winter without a place to call home.
32 cadets aged 13-17 from the Swindon North; Swindon South and Trowbridge units took part in the sleep out on Friday 4 December at Police Headquarters, Devizes. The sleep out in aid of the charity Threshold Housing Link has pledged £3671.34 for the charity.
Threshold Housing Link is a local independent charity which provides emergency, short, medium and long term accommodation to single homeless people in Swindon.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon (PCC) Angus Macpherson joined the cadets to spend the night sleeping outside.
The cadets were inspired to take part in the challenge by Mr Macpherson who volunteers with the Filling Station charity in Swindon which offers a weekly soup kitchen service to over 50 people who are homeless or in a cycle of homelessness. The Filling Station is supported by Threshold who provide an outreach service and offer support to those who are experiencing homelessness.
Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said: “I am delighted that the Cadets have been able to join me on the sleep out.
“I have been a supporter of Threshold for many years and try to actively raise awareness for them.
“I have slept out most years to raise money and I thought it would be a good opportunity too for the cadets to become involved and experience what it is like to sleep out at night.
“The sleep out does not replicate being homeless; we will not have to return to a cold or damp sleeping bag for a second or third night but it does help us to raise awareness for those who do.
“I hope that not only will we raise money for those less fortunate, we will also have an enjoyable and memorable night.”
Using sleeping bags, roll mats, cardboard and bubble wrap; the PCC and cadets found a doorway or shelter to sleep in before settling down for the night.
Swindon cadet Oliver aged 16 said: “I am doing this to understand the daily struggles and torments the homeless go through every day; to help do my bit and get people out of situations beyond their control.”
Wiltshire Police Youth Lead Steve McGlynn said: “I was really pleased that the cadets were able to support the Police and Crime Commissioner with this fundraiser.
“As we are approaching the festive season it was a good opportunity for us to spend some time thinking about others who are less fortunate than ourselves.
“The cadets were keen to be part of the sleep out, to have a new experience and raise as much money and awareness as they could.
“As a group we have spent time discussing what it means to be homeless and understanding that losing your home or accommodation could happen to anyone; not only through addiction but through loss of work, illness or family dynamics.
“The cadets endured a very cold and uncomfortable night and by the morning were all exhausted.
“Thank you to Subway for opening up early and supporting the cadets with breakfast.”
“Sleeping outside at the beginning of December was not easy, they should all be really proud of themselves for taking on this challenge.”
Trowbridge cadet Daniel aged 14 said: “I now understand the challenges homeless people face when trying to sleep and I am I more able to empathise with those who are homeless.”
A spokesperson for Threshold Housing Link said: “We would like to thank the cadets and staff for organising this event.
“We are overwhelmed by the generosity that has been shown. All of the money raised will directly help some of Swindon’s most vulnerable people and will help to save lives this winter.
“It is heart-warming to see so many young people participating and showing that they care about homeless people. Well done to all those involved!”