Sleeping rough in Clevedon to raise awareness of young homeless

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By Carol_Deacon | Monday, November 12, 2012, 14:58

Two students chose to sleep out in Clevedon on Saturday night to drawn attention to the plight of the homelessness among young people in North Somerset.

Lauren Civill-Holt, aged 20, and Kate Sloan, 19, who are both reading for a degree in physiotherapy at Cardiff University ran a stall during the daytime at Queens Square and in the evening camped out at The Barn.

The girls belong to an independent charity called Vinspired which is dedicated to supporting 14-25 year olds volunteers.

A former pupil at Clevedon Community School Lauren roped in her friend Kate for the sleeping rough awareness event.

Lauren whose ambition is to work at Great Ormond Street Hospital as a paediatrics physiotherapist said: "I wanted to challenge perceptions and raise awareness of youth homelessness in the North Somerset and Bristol as it is something I feel passionate about."

During the day they spoke to shoppers and handed out leaflets in Clevedon town centre and in the evening under the watchful eye of a nearby CCTV they bedded down in sleeping bags for the outdoor experience.

Lauren said: "We both felt very uncomfortable lying on the ground at the back of The Barn and intimidated by people walking past and giving us funny looks. 

"We felt it would be a bit more real by not putting the banner up but we could not understand how a homeless person could cope with being that cold for days in a row as they wouldn't have the layers we did and we were still cold.

"We only had one group of young people come over and ask us if we were actually homeless and what we were doing but everyone else walked past and gave us weird looks. "

Lauren and Kate spent a fitful night continually woken often by the cold and 'scary' sounds.

Luckily several local community police support officers dropped by to check we were okay, said Lauren.

She added: "It was extremely frosty in the morning and my feet were ice cold butI think we did raise awareness with some people while others were quite negative."

"Young people become homeless for many reasons and the causes aren't just drugs or alcohol abuse."

Lauren is making a video of the experience.

The last available statistics for 209-10 show of the 65,162 single homeless people with support needs 47 per cent - 30,335 - were young people aged 16-24 and of the 7,256 rough sleepers, 782 (23 per cent) were young people aged 16-24. 

Parental eviction is given by North Somerset Council as the biggest cause of youth homelessness in this area.

Former pupil Lauren is putting on a exhibition about homelessness at Clevedon Community School on Friday November 23, from 6-8pm.

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