I read with great interest your recent article on homelessness in Mansfield and thank reporter Kevin Rogers for his emotive piece.
The comments by interviewees serve as a timely reminder of the need for support and solutions in this community, and underline the importance of efforts to prevent and tackle homelessness. They also underline the importance of the Mansfield Big Snore – an event we reluctantly opted to postpone in the face of freezing weather.
Some people have questioned this decision – making the point that people who sleep rough for real have no choice but to do so. However, the Mansfield Big Snore is not about replicating the appalling conditions faced by those who sleep rough for real.
MORE ON THIS STORY: Chad reporter meets homeless people who are living in tents this winter
Whilst the event does provide ample opportunity for people to reflect on the experiences of others, it can’t possibly recreate the kinds of experiences (the fear, the negative impact on health, the risk of abuse) people face when they are sleeping rough for real.
Fundamentally this event is about raising a significant sum of money to fund vital resettlement work with former rough sleepers and homeless people. This work is vital to create room at our Sherwood Street accommodation for homeless people.
We know from experience that events held in such harsh conditions suffer a significant drop-out rate – and with it a significant fall in income.
Had this been the case with the 2015 Big Snore then we may have been unable to fund this work going forward.
I know full well that a considerable number of participants would turn up whatever the weather. Indeed, as referenced in the Chad, one group of volunteers went ahead anyway and have raised a fantastic sum of money already.
However, we now know from conversations in recent days that many more (including families with young children) would have been unable to take part.
A new date will be announced in the coming days. In the meantime we will continue our work in Mansfield with the many hundreds of people who are relying on our support to keep a roof over their heads, and with those people who have lived the nightmare of rough sleeping for real.
Homelessness remains a problem in this community and it is an issue we encourage everyone to learn about and challenge. One way to do this is by taking part in the Big Snore.
For more information please see www.frameworkha.org/bigsnore
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