As part of Southampton Refugee Month, the SUSU Amnesty Society organised a ‘sleep out’ to raise money for refugees currently in Greece through the charity Together for Better Days. I braved the cold to join them.
At about 9pm we all gathered together on the Redbrick opposite the Union building, and set up camp.
We put up two small gazebos to prevent us from waking up in the middle of a puddle (but thankfully, contrary to typical British weather, it didn’t rain!) and laid down lots of cardboard to sleep on. Sophie Nobes, the president of SUSU Amnesty, then informed us of the plans for the night.
We first wrote and signed letters addressed to Prime Minister Theresa May, telling her about our campaign and how passionate many Britons are about seeing changes in the way refugees are treated.
With winter fast approaching and temperatures and food supplies dropping drastically, Amnesty believes action is needed to help these people where they are and prevent this from happening altogether. We had collection buckets around to collect any spare change passers by wanted to donate to the cause, and a few people stopped and sat with us to talk about what it was that we were doing and why helping these refugees is so important.
At around midnight we held a candle lit vigil where we took some quiet time out to reflect on why we were doing this, and share any thoughts or experiences that we had. One person present had first hand experience working with the charity we were supporting in Greece so it was really comforting to hear her experiences and know that the money we were raising would go directly into helping these people.
After finding a snug spot and winning the battle with our sleeping bags we were all layered up and cozy and ready to settle down for the night.
Lying there in my sleeping bag I thought about how many layers I had on (three T-shirts, two pairs of joggers, a onesie, two pairs of socks, a coat, scarf, gloves and a hat), yet I still felt chilly and a bit uncomfortable at times sleeping on the hard floor. I had to do it for one night, yet these children are living like this with not even a blanket to wrap around themselves. It was a very humbling experience for me, and one I’m glad I took part in.
If you want to donate a GoFundMe page will be up and running from approximately a week after the event.