Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Volunteers sleep under the stars to raise cash
Diamonds in the Community supporters sparkled in the night sky as they braved icy conditions for a sponsored sleepout which raised nearly £8000.
A group of 30 intrepid volunteers from across three generations bedded down for the night outside the Airdrie charity’s town-centre premises to highlight the issues of homelessness and poverty and to raise funds.
They smashed their initial target and more than trebled their thenrevised figure of £2500.
Participants – who ranged in age from just nine to grandparents – slept on cardboard boxes from nearby supermarkets and wrapped up in sleeping bags and duvets against temperatures which plunged to minus one degree overnight.
They were supported with donations of soup and hot food from local businesses during the night and a much-needed Sunday morning breakfast; they also collected a further £400 in overnight cash donations from passing revellers.
Now they are aiming for the sleepout to become an annual event, after raising a magnificent total which will help the good cause with its varied projects, including collecting donated clothing to be distributed to local families, and assisting those needing help to furnish their homes.
Diamonds charity development manager Dougy Allsop said: “It was beyond our wildest expectations, both in terms of the numbers taking part and the money raised; we can’t begin to say how amazing that figure of £7907 is.
“We initially hoped for £1000, and as the number of participants started to go up we wondered if everybody could raise £100, which would have been amazing.
“To say we’re flabbergasted by the total is an understatement and shows that even at the hardest of times financially, people’s generosity can be humbling.
“The majority is due to all the people who did the sleepout chasing up friends and colleagues for sponsorship and on the night we made another £400 from people passing by, coming out of the pubs and asking what we were doing.”
He added: “We tried to make it as realistic as possible by sleeping on cardboard, using donated items to keep warm and replicating the type of meals served up at soup kitchens.
“It got down to minus one overnight so it was really cold and that hot food kept us going.
“One of the biggest things that made it hard to sleep was being wary of people passing by, and that was with 30 of us in a big group and people staying awake to keep watch – it was still a worry to see what would happen.
“People might not think homelessness is as prevalent in North Lanarkshire as in cities, but through our work we see people sofa surfing, who don’t have somewhere to stay, and it was good through this event to raise the profile of poverty in the area.
“The best part was probably making it through to 8am on the Sunday morning! The money raised was amazing and there was really good camaraderie among the group and a lot of new friends made.
“We’re pleased to have raised so much for the work of Diamonds in the Community and this money is a lifeline and gives us breathing space.
“It will ensure the ongoing running of the charity for three or four months; and we’re in desperate need of racks for all the clothing donations we have from babies through to adults, and for home furnishings, so this will allow us to do that.
“We’re really grateful to everyone who supported the sleepout.”