Twenty-eight young people braved the aftermath of Storm Callum to experience for themselves what it is like to sleep rough.
The sleep-out took place at North Yorkshire Youth outdoor activity centre Carlton Lodge, near Thirsk, and was part of the North Yorkshire Young People’s Council’s campaign to raise awareness about the issue of homelessness.
The Young People’s Council is a group for young people who have experienced the care system first hand, and it plays an important part in the work that North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is doing in giving children and young people a voice in decision-making.
The sleep-out event brought together members of the Young People’s Council, North Yorkshire Youth Voice Executive and youth groups from Selby and Staithes. They slept outside overnight in cardboard boxes donated by Tesco in Thirsk, which also gave some of the food used at the event.
Staff from North Yorkshire Youth at Carlton Lodge supported the event and slept over with the young people, along with staff from North Yorkshire Youth, the Voice, Influence and Participation team, the headteacher of the NYCC Virtual School, a NYCC prevention worker and adult volunteers from Staithes Youth Club.
Before settling down for the night, the group heard stories from young people about their experiences of being homeless. Members of the Young People’s Council gave a presentation about the work they do and why holding this event was so important to them.
They were joined by representatives from SASH, the charity that supports young people in York and North Yorkshire who do not have a place to live, and a Homelessness Prevention Worker talked to them about the work going on to support young people in the county.
As part of its work to support good mental health in young people, the county council funds a service called Compass Buzz which trains health and education professionals to provide emotional and mental wellbeing support in schools. Following the presentations, a wellbeing worker from Compass Buzz talked to the young people individually about the support they can provide and provided information leaflets.
County Councillor Janet Sanderson, NYCC’s executive member for children’s services, said:
The sleep-out followed a great afternoon at the North Yorkshire Youth annual general meeting.
I was delighted to be invited along with Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire’s leader, and we heard first-hand about the work that the council and the young people are doing to make their voice heard and have a say in decision-making.
They were excited about the sleep-out event and I’m glad it was so successful in raising awareness of the challenges young people can face around homelessness.