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