They’ve packed their beanie hats, thickest jumpers and collected all the spare cardboard from their offices in preparation – but Hudgell Solicitors employees know it’s likely to be the support of one another which gets them through a night sleeping on the streets in the name of charity.
Michelle Louise Nurse, Sharelle Gibbons, Nicola Bailey-Gibbs, Steve Hinchcliffe and Victoria Neale will all be ditching the warmth and comfort of their own beds this Thursday evening and swapping it to sleep rough on the streets of Leeds, as part of the firm’s support for the Simon on the Streets Charity.
Founded in 1999 and operating across Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield, the charity aims to help the ‘homeless and rootless’ who find themselves with nowhere else to turn, providing ‘unconditional support’ aimed at empowering them to improve their self-image and begin to think about making positive changes in their lives.
Its ‘Sleep With Simon’ fundraiser has become an annual event since first held in 2010, challenging people to face a night in the open to not only raise funds through sponsorship, but hopefully help them gain a better understanding and appreciation of the issues the homeless face, and as a result have a deeper sense of empathy for those who live that way every day.
Participants have been assured this Thursday’s sleep out is ‘not truly like sleeping rough’, as the event will take place in a secure area of The Royal Armouries Tilt Yard, which is enclosed, safe, managed and stewarded by team members from the charity.
But it will, of course, be dark, cold, and possibly wet as it is open to the elements, and as those taking part are only able to take a plastic sheet, thick cardboard or a sleeping bag, most of the Hudgell team are somewhat apprehensive about what they have volunteered to do.
Homeless charities supported by firm’s employees in 2017
“I’ve been feeling ok about it, but as it gets nearer I am starting to get a little nervous about the temperature and concerned that I may not get any sleep whatsoever,” said Nicola Bailey-Gibbs, solicitor and manager of criminal injuries at the firm’s Leeds-based office in Park Place.
“I’m pretty much taking everything I own to keep warm, including my new Hudgell fleece and hat which we’ve been provided with, my thermals, Ugg boots and gloves and a sleeping bag.
“I’m taking part because as a firm we have been supporting homeless charities this year, so when this opportunity came up I saw it as something I could do to raise some money for the charity, and whilst what we will be doing doesn’t come close to what those living on the street have to deal with every single day, hopefully the money we raise will go some way towards making a difference.”
Marketing assistant Sharelle – who says she likes the ‘nice things in life’ and somewhat worryingly is predicting a personal ‘breakdown’ on the night – and legal executive Victoria (who admits to feeling cold even when in a heated office) are hoping the spirit amongst their colleagues will get them through the challenge, something all agree will be key to their success.
“The team of people I work with are an awesome bunch. Laughs and giggles will get us all through the night, I hope,” said IT Executive Steve.
“I think spirits will be high and we will all be supporting each other through,” added criminal injuries specialist Michelle, who first suggested doing the event and whose sister-in-law Lisa, of Minster Law, will also be taking up the challenge. I am very proud to be doing this. It is a small sacrifice for one night.”
“It’s important to try and make a difference,” added Sharellle.
“I think doing this will give me an insight into the daily struggles people face. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own life, moaning about small things. This will definitely make people step back and appreciate what they have in life.”
Charity delighted with support of Hudgell Solicitors to highlight homelessness issue
Gordon Laing, General Manager of the charity, said: “The year round support that we get from both individuals and businesses throughout the region is phenomenal and illustrates just how visible the problem of homelessness and rough sleeping is within our communities.
“The support from Hudgell Solicitors has been fantastic so far as we have been able to track their progress on social media. It is great to see a local firm recognise and embrace the problem of rough sleeping and to proactively do something about it both in raising awareness and of course, funds for the charity to help us do our work.
“I am looking forward to the team’s arrival at the event and will make sure they have a special place to sleep – out in the open.”
To support the Hudgell team and make a charity donation, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/teamhudgell-sleepout