My fiancé Sabrina and I moved to the UK a few months ago. While we were having an exciting time starting our studies, making new friends, and attending inspiring talks and debates, we were taken aback by the prevalence of poverty and homelessness, particularly in Oxford, where we live. Hardly a day went by when we didn’t witness someone sleeping in the streets, or were approached by someone who was homeless for a little spare change or food. Living next to a homeless shelter has further led to regular, sometimes positive, other times troubling interactions. What struck me most is that homeless here in Oxford are often under the age of thirty. Seeing people my own age homeless in the city of dreaming spires with its seemingly unlimited possibilities left me dismayed.
When the chance came to support the cause to tackle this issue, we were excited. To raise awareness and generate funds for the homeless, Clare Hayns, chaplain of Christ Church college, organized the Sleepout Challenge. The Sleepout Challenge is a series of fundraising events across the UK. The funds raised go towards the Church Urban Fund, an agency of the Church of England. The fund aims to bring about change in poor communities by supporting those who lack hope or self-belief. Its goal is to encourage, enable and equip them to take control of their lives once again (https://www.cuf.org.uk).
For our Sleepout Challenge, we made Christ Church cathedral our home for a night. The cathedral is a beautiful, magnificent, and grand place; but its stone floors are also cold and hard. Sleeping in the shivering cold was a humbling experience. Yet, we were so lucky to have sleeping bags, comfort food and hot drinks – it is hard to imagine what it must be like to sleep in the cold on a regular basis without these amenities. It made me realize even more how blessed we are, and further increased my compassion for those not so fortunate.
Among our group of 24 volunteers, we were able to raise over £4,000 from our families, friends and colleagues. We are excited and thankful to have achieved such a fantastic result.
If you too would like to contribute to this cause, your donation is indeed still very welcome. Please visit the link below in case you would like to give:
Thank you, and have a wonderful advent.
All the best
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