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14th Mar 2022
Volunteers prepare for a night sleeping rough in the YMCA car park in Norwich

Around 40 volunteers braved a cold and wet night sleeping in the YMCA car park in Norwich to show solidarity with homeless people and to raise money for an innovative project which is helping young vulnerable homeless people establish themselves in their first homes.

The volunteers from Broadland Housing Association and the YMCA, which are together delivering the Housing First project, are aiming to raise £5,000 from the event to buy furniture for the young people setting up in their own home.

Among the people bedding down on Friday night in cardboard boxes in the car park of the YMCA Community Hub in Aylsham Road were Broadland Housing Association chief executive Michael Newey and YMCA chief executive John Lee.

Mr Lee said, “The partnership between the YMCA and Broadland is helping to deliver a really worthwhile project aimed at homeless young people who have difficult or chaotic backgrounds. 

“For a number of reasons, these young people find hostel accommodation difficult, so the aim of Housing First is to skip that step and get them established in their own homes, with a support package to help them succeed in their tenancies and get their lives back on track.

Mr Newey, who was taking part in the sleepout alongside nine other Broadland Housing staff, said at the start of the night, “Most of us will fortunately never know what it is like to be sleeping rough on the streets.  Although tonight is going to be cold and damp, all of us know that tomorrow we have homes to go to.  For those on the streets, this is what they face night after night.

“Broadland Housing is absolutely committed to tackling the problem of homelessness, and we are delighted to be working with the YMCA to be delivering the Housing First project with them, the first of its kind in East Anglia.”

Housing First is an approach which aims to tackle homelessness among people with particularly complex needs by aiming to get individuals into their own home as quickly as possible and providing them with the support they need to make it work.  It involves minimising the amount of time spent in temporary accommodation and seeks to minimise the number of moves someone has to make before they move into a permanent home.

Anyone wanting to donate to support the sleepout can do so by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/broadlandhousingsleepeasy2022.