Students moved to help rough sleepers after research project
When you’re out at 2am you see rough sleepers a lot more. It was an issue we wanted to address.
A group of students from the University of Bath has raised over £1,000 for Julian House. Following a research project on homelessness in 2017 the School Of Management group decided that they wanted to use those findings as a platform for generating some tangible benefit for rough sleepers and others who find themselves in a very vulnerable position of the edge of society. Being students they often saw the homeless at night. Student Tom Robinson said: “When you’re out at 2am you see it a lot more. It was an issue we wanted to address. “We wanted to work with a charity that made a difference. Julian House have been so great to work with. “We worked out that it would cost every student at the University of Bath £1 per year to feed all the BANES homeless.” When deciding on how to fundraise, the students approached Julian House to discuss their plans. Cecil Weir, the charity’s fundraising director said he was delighted to be asked about the best way forward. He said: “Their initial idea was to raise some funds and generate as many shoe boxes as they could ie filled with small items that would of practical value. “Although these are useful it is surprising how many we receive, especially now during the winter months. This in turn presents something of a challenge for us both in terms of storage and sometimes, their suitability. “Once I understood what they were trying to achieve I spoke with my colleagues who are delivering services to ask what would be of most help. “They were quick to suggest sleeping bags, 80 litre rucksacks and steel Thermos flasks – really useful items which would make rough sleepers’ lives easier. “Although we have dramatically increased our capacity to get people off the streets it’s still not enough and we are having to support those who are out. “This is not a position that we want to be in but that is the reality. My outreach colleagues are over the moon to have these materials.” The team raised the money for the supplies by cycling the distance of the width of the English Channel at its widest point, which is 150 miles. In total they raised £1,138 via their Justgiving page and in person donations. Julian House have already used £500 of the money on supplies for the homeless and will put the rest to good use. All six business administration students took part in the cycling. The team consisted of Tom Robinson, George Gill, Guy Russell-wilks, Sarah Hutchings, Emily Tanner and Imogen Slade. The students also raised awareness for the homelessness issue on campus, by selling doughnuts, putting up Julian House banners and having vital conversations about the importance of not ignoring the homeless and buying them food. Like most good causes raising funds is always a significant challenge for Julian House and a major priority. In this way it can provide life changing services to very marginalised groups in society and create new projects which can satisfy unmet needs – not just during the winter months but 365 days a year. However targeted support in kind can also be really valuable as the University of Bath team has vividly demonstrated. Over the past 12 months dialogue with other supporters has resulted in: refurbished IT equipment being presented from a leading firm of lawyers; pro bono professional advice and guidance; a complete bedding change at the charity’s main hostel and good quality office furniture. By not spending money on these items Julian House can then spend more money on projects and services. Cecil is quick to point out that it’s all about timing and need. He said: “At any one time our needs are different. IT equipment may be really valuable at one point but on another day not. “The really important thing is to talk to a good cause first – a message which I’m sure would apply to most charities.” Tom said: “It’s so important that their needs are met. Listening to what a charity needs is really important .... It was good to see the tangible product we managed to buy.” The Chronicle is supporting the Julian House Christmas appeal, which runs from now until the end of January – with a target of raising £150,000 towards the charity’s work. You can donate online at www. justgiving.com/julianhouse/donate or using the coupon on this page.
Students with Cecil Weir of Julian House after raising £1,000 to buy sleeping bags, rucksacks and Thermos flasks for the homeless