FEATURE: Will you be joining Reverend and the Makers star and sleeping rough for Sheffield homeless charity?

Youth charities from across the country are preparing for their biggest fundraising event of the year.

Monday, 12th September 2016, 1:00 pm
Updated Monday, 12th September 2016, 3:43 pm
Volunteers at a previous Sleep Out event.

As the colder seasons are approaching, charities that form the End Youth Homelessness partnership are encouraging their supporters to sleep rough for one night, to prevent it from becoming a reality for young people in their city.

In Sheffield, youth homeless charity Roundabout is busy planning their fifth Sleep Out event which will take place at CADS Works in Smithfield, close to the city centre, on Thursday, November 3.

Roundabout supporters.

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Roundabout has been providing shelter, support and life skills to young people aged between 16 and 24 in South Yorkshire for almost 40 years.

They have various services which aim to reduce homelessness in the city and a hostel for 27 young people, located in the Highfield area.

Last November’s Sleep Out raised £15, 000 for the charity and the total raised from all past Sleep Outs is an impressive £37, 000.

Ruth Gage, Roundabout’s fundraising and communications manager, said the annual event is key to raising awareness about the issue of homelessness and ensuring people don’t turn a blind eye to a major problem.

Roundabout's chief executive, Ben Keegan, and deputyTracey Jackson

She added: “The Sleep Out is our flagship event and they are vital to allow us to continue to help vulnerable young people in Sheffield.

“An event like this cannot truly replicate what it is like to be lonely, frightened and homeless but it can help to make a real difference to those many young people who, through no fault of their own, face these challenges every day.”

The event starts at 8pm and will be hosted by Roundabout’s patron and BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Paulette Edwards.

While those taking part are in all likelihood set for a cold night, there will be some entertainment.

Reverend and the Makers star Jon McClure selling the Big Issue in Sheffield. Photo @bigissuenorth

The first half of the evening will feature games, food from 7 Hills Pizza Cones and other activities.

But from midnight the really tough challenge begins - and a famous face is set to be among the crowd this year.

Swapping his bed for a sleeping bag will be Reverend and the Makers star Jon McClure.

Having taken part in Vendors Week back in February where he sold the Big Issue, the Sheffield songwriter is already fully aware of the issue of homelessness in Sheffield.

Roundabout supporters.

He said: “Homelessness shouldn’t really be a thing these days. I’m the lead singer in a band and I’m used to people cheering when they see me on stage.

“Yet when I was selling the Big Issue, people were ignoring me and walking past.

“It was an insightful moment.

“I know the Sleep Out will be a challenge, but I want to do what I can to raise awareness of the issue and help to end homelessness.”

Roundabout’s hostel was unveiled three years ago after a major £1 million revamp.

The formerly rundown facility in St. Barnabas Road, Highfield, was transformed with new bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms.

Roundabout's chief executive, Ben Keegan, and deputyTracey Jackson

It also includes a training space to help homeless teenagers to learn about independent living skills so they can break the cycle of homelessness.

Project officers offer guidance and information on a wide range of matters, including housing, benefits, substance misuse, sexual health and how to cook on a budget.

These new facilities are a far cry from those when the charity first opened in 1977.

Back then, the first base had only three beds and an outside toilet.

Over the last four decades the charity is estimated to have helped more than 10, 000 young people in Sheffield.

It provides shelter, support and life skills to over 150 young people aged 16 to 24 every day.

As well as the hostel, they have a resettlement team which provides semi-supported accommodation for young people who are preparing to leave care.

Shortly after the major renovation was completed, Roundabout chief executive officer Ben Keegan said: “It has been amazing to see the hostel throughout its renovation and now the completed project.

“The renovation has made a huge difference to the young people living there who now have a safe and comfortable place to stay.”

To join in the Sleep Out event and register to take part, visit www.roundaboutsleepout.eventbrite.co.uk.

There is no minimum sponsorship but participants are encouraged to aim for £150 per person. For more information, please email [email protected] or call Ruth on 0114 253 6753.

Reverend and the Makers star Jon McClure selling the Big Issue in Sheffield. Photo @bigissuenorth