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Sleep Easy Rough Sleepers Brave A Night In The Castle Grounds

Published on: 28 Mar, 2016
Updated on: 31 Mar, 2016

Nine people braved the cold to sleep out in Guildford’s Castle Grounds for YMCA DownsLink Group’s Sleep Easy fund.

They were among a total of 50 who took part with other venues being in Horsham and Brighton.

The Guildford sleepers were led by YMCA Guildford services manager, Steve Darken, while the Castle Green Bowling Club gave access to its clubhouse for the duration of the event, and the iconic venue was much appreciated by those taking part.


Getting ready for a night out in the cold.

Castle Green Bowling Club member Jill Bird took part on the night. Surprisingly she said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, though I would not like life without a bed for more than one night.”

Other participants found it “humbling” and “eye opening”, and some did manage to sleep – provided there wasn’t a loud snore nearby!

Forsaking creature comforts for just one night is hardly a true taste of homelessness – it was cold and uncomfortable but refreshments and facilities were laid on, and the volunteer ‘rough sleepers’ were in a safe environment.

The morning after> from left: Mark Edwards, Steve Darken, Jill Bird and Andy Watts.

The morning after> from left: Mark Edwards, Steve Darken, Jill Bird and Andy Watts.

And there was the knowledge that the next night would be spent in a warm bed.

But apart from raising awareness of youth homelessness the event that took place on March 18 is also raising vital funds for YMCA projects with vulnerable young people.

Currently the total stands at around £13,000 and is still climbing. Anyone wishing to encourage those that took part is welcome to donate via

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Responses to Sleep Easy Rough Sleepers Brave A Night In The Castle Grounds

  1. Pete Brayne Reply

    March 29, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Well done! I hope they didn’t mind me taking a year off.

    • Chris McSween Reply

      April 6, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      You’ve earned a year off but might you consider it again next year?

  2. Stephen Mansbridge Reply

    March 31, 2016 at 12:04 am

    I think this is a brilliant effort. Seeing people sleeping in the rough is hard, it is much harder when you know who they are.

    On the way to my office in London a few years ago, I walked passed a person sleeping in a Berkeley Street doorway. However shameful, most of us walk on by, but when your eyes connect and the person and you recognise someone you have known and trusted, it is completely different.

    I called my old Regimental Headquarters across the park and they sent help but this misses the point. There are far greater numbers of people, equally homeless, who sofa surf and who do not appear on any statistics.

    Guildford has many and the bereft on the street are but the tip of the iceberg. Policies like the Right to Buy and Universal Credit do nothing to support people who are poorly off in an area like our own.

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