‘The isolation must be frightening’ one man’s commitment to The Big Sleep

Steve Sampson has slept rough on the streets of Hastings three times in his life and he will be doing so again on September 28th as part of this year’s Big Sleep.

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Steve Sampson is now a regular participant in The Big Sleep. This year’s will be his fourth.

The Big Sleep is being organised by the Seaview Project from its base at the Southwater Centre in Hatherley Road, St Leonards and will take place on The Stade open space you can register now to be part of it by going to www.thebigsleephastings.com.

“I’ve been involved with Seaview for about five years, I was approached to be a trustee at a WOW Exchange evening,” says accountant Steve.

“I knew about Seaview as my late brother-in-law had been CEO for a number of years and homelessness had started to get out of control. Austerity affects the poor the worst and I could see the cuts were really beginning to affect vulnerable people.

“The Big Sleep came out of an idea to raise money and profile. Seaview had been in existence for 30 years but only those in the ‘trade’ knew of it and its services. Sue Burgess was the main driver of this along with Seaview’s Awareness for Action fund raising team. Although for Health and Safety reasons The Big Sleep is staged in a controlled environment, it does give you, first hand experience of what it’s like to sleep rough in a cardboard box. You don’t, however, experience the isolation – which I imagine is frightening.

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“I’ve done three Big Sleeps and each time the conditions have been different – very cold, very wet and mild, although mild in September seems cold when you are used to a roof over your head. It’s hard and uncomfortable but unlike real rough sleepers it’s just for one night and then you’re home to a warm house.

“It has proved very successful with significant funds being raised which have helped fill gaps as mainstream income has been cut or withdrawn.

“We are all only a few steps from the street and there are a lot of ordinary people living this nomadic life. Seaview and other local charities work hard to support people on the fridges of society and I feel passionate about my support for this worthy cause.”

Seaview recently won an award for the work it does which includes funding a team of outreach rough sleeper workers who go out at 4am three times a week to check on the welfare of rough sleepers. While rough sleeping might be thought of as something that is confined to the town centre the Seaview team know the areas on the fringes of the town and beyond where people go to find whatever shelter they can.

The rough sleeper workers are highly trained and able to respond to a wide range of problems that they might encounter.

Seaview was one of only eight organisations this year to receive the GSK/Kings Fund award for it’s ‘exceptionally positive impact’ on the health and wellbeing of the community it serves.

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