The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Event preview: RAG sleepout

A preview of Manchester RAG’s upcoming sleepout to raise awareness and funds to tackle homelessness in the city

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With homelessness becoming an ever-growing issue in Manchester, students want to do something about it. Over the past few years, the problem of homelessness in Manchester has grown significantly seeing more people than ever on the streets and increasing by fifty per cent in the last year alone. Manchester RAG is holding an event to raise awareness of the on-going issue in the aim to educate students of the real struggles of daily life on the streets.

The sponsored ‘Sleepout’ event will take place outside the Catholic Chaplaincy opposite the Students’ Union on 21st of October from 7pm to 7am. The evening will be an opportunity for students wishing to take part to fundraise for any charity of their choice that relates to the pressing issue of homelessness in the city and the education around it. There will be speakers on the night from from several homelessness charities such as MASH, Mustard Tree, Coffee 4 Craig, and Barnabus.

The idea intends to put people in the difficult position of being homeless by spending a night on the streets with other fundraisers in the hope of gaining an understanding of the lives of over seventy  homeless people in Manchester. With guest speakers who have experienced homelessness first hand, the night will be an environment of learning and educating. Live music and talks about the different types of help available to people on the streets will also fill the evening giving everyone involved the opportunity to understand the services out there and how to offer to those who need it.

The event points towards looking for a long-term solution when it comes to homelessness and steering away from short-term solutions such as supplying food or money. Instead, RAG and Student Action aim to encourage people on the streets to get help from organisations as they feel the Manchester community has a bigger responsibility at tackling the issue of homelessness. Jodie, chair of Manchester RAG, said of the event, “As a student body we have a responsibility to look after our city and everybody in it. We want to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness by not only fundraising money but also educating people to hopefully make a long term impact.”

Although donating food and money to rough sleepers creates in instant solution to some of the more fixable issues of homelessness such as hunger, it does nothing to contribute towards the harder issues like mental health, drug abuse and harm. There will be speakers on the night from from several homelessness charities such as MASH, Mustard Tree, Coffee 4 Craig, and Barnabus.

Every night, people sleeping rough on Manchester’s streets have to relocate from one shop doorway to another, with some setting up tents near Piccadilly train station and dangerous areas next to roads. Easier access to sleeping bags and tents along with food donations from the public, mean homeless people are not being encouraged to seek help and move away from a life on the streets.

In fact, with the increasing number of rough sleepers, it has been suggested that generous donations of food and money only make the problem worse by continuing to stabilise people’s lives on the streets instead of making a bigger change and moving them off the street. The event held by Manchester RAG will address this issue and raise awareness in what proves to be an inspiring and progressive evening.

For more information join ‘Manchester RAG does Sleepout’ on Facebook or email info@manchesterrag.com.