Last night, 60 professionals and emerging leaders slept outside in solidarity with the hundreds of young people who call Vancouver’s streets home, to raise funds for youth who struggle with mental illness and addictions.
The Sleep Out is first and foremost a peer-to-peer fundraising event, but it is also an opportunity for people to get a glimpse into the harshness of sleeping outside in February. The sleepers did not walk a mile in a homeless young person’s shoes, but they took a step towards a greater understanding.
The evening began with the participants touring our new 1302 Seymour building which includes our female Crisis Program and Drop-In Centre. They also had the opportunity to participate in a learning session about Trauma Informed Care. A panel consisting of Covenant House youth and staff shared their knowledge and experience about youth homelessness, mental illness and addictions.
The young people also shared their personal stories and explained how they found their way to Covenant House Vancouver, and how their lives have changed since. One youth shared, “My first experience with safety was in CHV and the stability that safety offers was very overwhelming. It was a hard transition, but a transition I’ll never regret.” Another youth shared that, “As an indigenous youth I faced a lot of challenges with my mental and physical health. When I found out about CHV I was in a very tough situation and I lacked a lot of the resources I needed. I’m currently working now and I’ve been able to use a lot of the resources provided here.“
The weather was cold with temperatures around -1 degree through out the night. Most sleepers did not get much rest saying there were very cold, extremely uncomfortable and one sleeper shared that they felt almost delirious. Most of the participants were off to work where, undoubtedly, they will find it hard to focus (and stay awake)!
We extend our heartfelt thanks to all of our sleepers and their supporters for their hard work fundraising and for sleeping out in solidarity with youth experiencing homelessness!