In the count down to Threshold Housing Link's charity sleep-out, the numbers of people rallying to support the cause is gaining momentum. A mother from Swindon is sharing the reason she and her family are taking part in the event this Friday (06/12).
Jemma Hilden, a Swindon mother of three reveals why she and her family will be attending Threshold’s Big Swindon SleepOut this year.
Jemma explains: “Our family works to do what we can in our community, wherever that leads us. Having weathered a few storms, from mental health related issues, to a house fire in 2017, it's driven us to help others and volunteer whenever we can”.
“I want my children to have a diverse life experience and to be good citizens. When we discovered Threshold’s BIG Swindon SleepOut in 2018, it seemed a perfect event to educate the children with a first hand and personal experience of sleeping rough, as well as to directly make a positive impact in our community through the funds we raised”.
“We managed to raise just over £75, it was such a heart touching experience for me and my eldest two little pixies, as I call them! My son Euan who was 12 at the time and my daughter Ayla who was 11 were keen participants”.
“Ayla is also a natural charity beauty queen as ‘Preteen Young European Miss International Wiltshire’ and uses that platform to bring light to mental health related issues and both children are young carers. Our family is a team, mental health severally affects those who suffer homelessness, so anyway we can help then all the better”.
“We can actually see the difference in our community through the work Threshold undertake. This year Euan and Ayla's little sister Ivie, age 5, will be joining, on her own insistence. Ivie has a very strong mind and we talk openly about what we do as a family. Hearing her older siblings talk about the sleep out has inspired her. She was thrilled upon hearing she will have a buddy of the same age in attendance”.
Ivie, age five, says “it upsets her that people can be left with no pennies for food and nowhere to go, and that no people deserve to sleep outside”. So, says Ivie, “we should help each other”.
Ayla also says, “this is important because if we positively help others in our community, and personally, our community becomes stronger. Last year attending made me so grateful, it's easy to take for granted something like a warm bed and some people don't even have a blanket. I have been competing with my brother in school to raise funds.
"Online on Facebook we have a family fundraiser where the first 10 sponsors who donate over £5 will be in an online draw for a hamper. My brother and I donated this hamper with our pocket money as a way to say thank you to those supporting us! I'm really excited for next weekend and hope we can do well for Threshold and for our town’s homeless. Being a ‘Wiltshire PreTeen Queen’ means I can share the word of the event. The motto for my pageant YEMI is #aspiretoinspire, I want in inspire others to take a look at the reasons and the issues that impact on those that are homeless. It would be great if more people shared in the positive work that Threshold do. Hopefully I can raise awareness and get more people investing in such a worthy cause”.
Euan added: “I also feel far more grateful and the sleep-out has been one of the most educational and inspiring things I’ve done for charity. I've also been fundraising around school with Ayla and promoting our online fundraiser. I want to do all I can to support the great work of Threshold.
"I'd highly recommend this event for families, anyone can do it. It's the incredible people you meet, everyone coming together and putting ourselves in the other people’s shoes for just one night, all the while aiding Swindon’s homeless charity to do more of the amazing work they do”.
Michael Keenan Threshold’s Chief Development Officer said “It’s wonderful to be joined again this year by Jemma’s family, they are such community champions. Our BIG SWINDON SLEEPOUT attracts the most compassionate and caring people from all over the region to one place for one very special night.
"We’re very excited to be able to share this invitation to all the wonderful communities across Swindon. Come and join us! You can register for Threshold’s Big Swindon SleepOut Friday 6 Dec, from 8PM until 07:30AM the next morning at the Supermarine Sports Club and spend a night under the stars, in solidarity with those that have no home. This event not only raises critical funds to help us carry out our mission, but it’s also a chance to meet other likeminded individuals dedicated to positive social action.
"If you want to take part and join this extraordinary community event please visit our website and register to get your ‘Sleeper Pack’ with all the info you will need, and please tell your friends”.
Further information is available at: https://www.thl.org.uk/events/the-big-sleepout-2019/