Here’s what happened at the RAG Sleep Out In Solidarity

One concourse camper raised £147

Fundraisers braved the cold on Friday night and slept rough under the Union concourse, in aid of local asylum-seekers.

Organised by the Raising and Giving (RAG) committee, the twelve-hour event saw 24 of us slumming it for Assist, a Sheffield charity supporting destitute migrants.

Campers slept in sleeping bags during the Sleepout in Solidarity overnight event

Xin Wen, a first-year foreign student from China, said she’d signed up after seeing details about it on Facebook. Of the city’s homeless, the 18-year-old said: “I’ve seen them on West Street at night, and it makes me feel sad. I knew I wanted to do something about the problem but I didn’t know what, or how, I could help.”

“This felt like a good way of doing something positive.”

Xin Wen

Others turned up with supplies to see them through the night. “I’ve brought a sandwich, Oreos, and jelly babies” said Alice Vanderwerff, studying Language and Linguistics, while her friend Hayley Smith said she had a bag filled with “Happy Shoppers’ finest”.

“The problem is, I’ve already eaten literally half the stuff I bought, just on the bus down here.”

Between them, the 19-year-olds have raised nearly £200, using online giving pages to spread the word.

James Devan, 18, a first-year Medic, armed with his travel toothbrush and toothpaste, ahead of the sleep out

Sophie Little, 20, said she too had received money from parents and friends back home. “That’s the best tip for fundraising. Just get your mum to share a Facebook link. It’s so quick and easy.”

Sophie Little, 20, and Steven Rose, 19, were among those wrapping up warm on Friday night

Speakers from the charity praised the initiative, saying the efforts were making “a real difference”.

Assist’s Robert Spooner and Victor Mujakachi spoke to participants at the start of the night

Robert Spooner, a former chairman of Assist, told participants: “Every week, we help 85 people by providing support, accommodation, or just a small amount of money. That all adds up, though, so thank you for all the money you’ve raised.”

Robert Spooner, of the Sheffield-based Assist charity, pictured at the Sleepout in Solidarity event

Victor Mujakachi, an asylum-seeker himself, said: “Spare a thought for those who don’t have anything when it’s raining and it’s cold and when we face the real life situation of destitution.”

Victor Mujakachi, 55, is one of the people whom Assist has helped. An asylum-seeker originally from Zimbabwe, he now volunteers for the charity

The former bank-manager came to the UK as a student in 2003 but “can’t go back” to Zimbabwe for political reasons. He is now forced to live thousands of miles away from his wife and three sons. “This is how families get split up”, the 55-year-old avowed.

“I’m nothing to the government but a statistic. That’s where Assist sees me differently, and why their work is so good.”