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10th October 2011

A night on the tiles: students sleep rough to raise money for the homeless

Charity praises public response and calls for more student participation

Manchester medical students spent the night on the streets of Manchester to raise money and awareness for the homeless. Medical students belonging to HomED, a student charity aimed at encouraging engagement with the homeless, set up camp in front of the Oxford Road chaplaincy from 6pm to 6am. They offered soup in exchange for donations.

The sleep-out raised money for Cornerstone, a drop-in centre serving the Moss Side area, which provides food, clothes, entertainment and education for the homeless. HomED also aims to draw attention to the need, from a medical perspective, for greater social interaction with those living on the streets.

The average life expectancy for the homeless is 42 years, due to a high rate of substance abuse, mental health issues and suicide. The lack of a fixed address prevents most from registering with a GP, resulting in a reliance on A&E.

The evening also saw the medics providing food and company for those in need; as one homeless man and two women without a bed for the night joined them. The organisers said they were pleased with the response. Apart from the money raised by participants in the sleep-out, there was a regular flow of donations from passers-by.

‘Prior to the event we had raised about 140 pounds,’ said Ellen Morsman, chair of HomED, Manchester. ‘Then on Sunday morning our total stood at £500 pounds. Since the weekend it has jumped up to £660 and I have high hopes over the next few weeks/months we will reach our target of £1000.’

In addition to fundraising schemes like the sleep-out, medics also arrange clothes and food collections for around Christmas, and organise activities which clients might not normally be able to enjoy, such as the pantomime or bowling.

The society is hoping to widen its membership. ‘This year we’re trying to become a student union society, rather than just being a medics’ society,’ Morsman said. ‘There’s no real reason why it should just be a medics’ charity; we want to try and expand it and get more students involved.’

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