Earlier this week I posed the question “Am I mad?”. In 2013 I was invited to choose between the regular YMCA sleepout undercover at the Pirelli football stadium or the extreme sleepout in the graveyard of St Modwens Parish Church.
My response was that I was too old for the extreme but here I am 5 years later on the verge of my 60th birthday sleeping in that very same graveyard: well I use the word 'sleeping' loosely as having chosen my spot carefully, laid the groundsheet and got into my sleeping bag I managed to grab roughly an hours sleep before waking up to find the constant rain had worn the box down even with the tarpaulin over it. Consequently I now have a very wet sleeping bag and pillow.
I'm grabbing half an hours dryness before I get another cardboard box and try again in the hope that the rain will ease off.
What have I learned from this ? Firstly slipping on the wet grass and twisting my knee slightly isn't helped by then having to sleep on hard, unforgiving and uneven ground.
Secondly, Gods creation is beautiful but also powerful. Rain and wind make lethal foes, and ultimately humanity cannot control or even predict them accurately.
Thirdly, and most importantly I'm only out here one night in the year. Tonight in Burton alone will be at least 12 rough sleepers who won't have a bath, a bed and a hot drink to return to in the morning. Instead all they'll face is another long day followed by sleeping rough again. Worse, all this in the knowledge winters coming and the weathers going to worsen.
Im very fortunate: I have a house, food,, friends and family to return to: others haven't and this is why I'm doing this again for the 6th time and why I'll do it again next year. I'll become uncomfortable again because others will benefit and perhaps they'll be given hope.