Hero finalist raises £47,000 for the homeless…and the money’s still coming in
What have you done?
A champion fashion finalist has raised an astonishing £47,000 after a bighearted homeless man offered her his last three quid for a taxi home.
Inspirational Dominique Harrison-Bentzen, a runner up in the Miss Preston pageant, originally set out to raise £500 after she lost her bank card on a night out and was approached by homeless man Robbie.
When 22-year-old Dominique posted a Facebook status about her moving encounter with Robbie, she could never have imagined raising this much money.
She remembers how it all started when Robbie gave her £3 for a taxi when she was skint after a night out—even though it was all he had.
Dominique said: “The past month has been absolute amazing.
“I originally set out to change the attitudes on homelessness in my local area, but now it has gone global.”
After tracking Robbie down, she decided to fundraise for him by spending a night on the streets.
The sleep out, which took place on December 15th, was completed not just by Dominique and Robbie but by other members of the Preston community too, ranging from students to middle-aged mums.
She added: “The sleep out was great as people came together who had never met before.
“The daytime was enjoyable, as locals were coming over to us asking what we were doing.
“But at night, when the dark streets are deserted, you do feel quite vulnerable. None of us could really get settled, we would be told to move or decide to move ourselves as it didn’t feel safe.
“At 9am we could go back to our homes, but what we experienced was in now way a reflection of life for the permanently homeless.
“Whilst overall the reaction was positive, you do get some negativity. Sat there on the streets, you do feel very lonely and very ignored.
“I am positively overwhelmed.”
After receiving a hugely popular reception on social media, the donations flooded in for Dominique’s fundraiser.
She many donations flooded in, she had to reopen the funding page. Now the grand total stands at £47,000 and counting.
Dominique still isn’t sure how all the money is going to be spent.
She said: “I want to make sure I am utilizing the money in the best possible way. I want to respect people’s kind donations.”
Robbie, who wishes to remain out of the media, is now in a shelter receiving help, and in the process of being housed.
Dominique, who has always been involved in community projects, says her life in the public eye is time consuming, but she is definitely enjoying it.
She added: “It is great to be able to spread the awareness.
“I have had so many people contact me to tell me that Robbie’s story has inspired them to do a charitable act for a homeless person- buy them a coffee or something.
“I have received over 20,000 emails.”
Dominique is a keen participant in the Miss England pageants, and through this she has raised money for the children’s charity, Variety.
She added: “Pageants are something I’ve always done.
“I know there is a negative stigma against them but they’re full of young inspiring women who do amazing things.”
Dominique intends to continue with her charitable work for the homeless, as well as pageants, and she will be featuring in the Big Issue next week.