Weather conditions expected only once every three years. This was what Companions, Staff and a Volunteer of Emmaus Bristol faced in November when they joined some 40 others at St. Stephens Church, Soundwell for a night out sleeping rough to raise awareness of the homeless, Emmaus and the Bristol Soup Run charity.
The brainchild of Emmaus Bristol Volunteer Shirley, participants were only allowed a sleeping bag, plastic, cardboard and whatever warm clothing they could carry to survive the cold, wet night in the church grounds. Wanting it to be as realistic as possible Shirley organised a mock soup run and the rough sleepers enjoyed some welcome hot food and drink before trying to get some sleep.
Due to the weather the greater part of the crowd slept indoors with the church doors wide open and these people found it to be just as cold as outside. Emmaus is proud to say most of our numbers were able to complete the night with varying degrees of (dis)comfort as planned, whether under trees, on wet grass behind a wall and even in the recesses of the church wall!
Waking up the next morning saw many a bleary eye and creased face but spirits were high and all thought the experience very worthwhile. Several Companions and Nigel our House Manager went to St. Stephens the following Sunday to help Community Leader Dave Perry promote Emmaus, and were warmly congratulated by the congregation for their part in the sleep-out. Indeed it turns out that many of the participants that Friday night (the 13th incidentally!) only fully appreciated what it might be like to sleep rough when they went to bed the following evening; warm, snug and back in their own beds!
Well done Shirley and all who ‘had a go’ that evening. Success can be summed up by the news the Bishop of Bristol would like to join in the next time!