As part of a government funded program – National Citizen Service, a team of twelve young women from Wealden have created a social action project that raises awareness for homeless young people.
The 16/17-year-olds have been working with Sussex Nightstop a local charity that works with homeless young people.
The Wealden NCS team said they chose to support this cause because they are extremely passionate about helping other young people. Team member Mia Bridger-Perez said:
People find homelessness to be a taboo subject, and we want to break this stigma.
They collected donations and fundraised to put together fifty backpacks filled with essential supplies, they called ‘Bags of Hope’, which will be given to homeless youth in Brighton and Sussex. The backpacks consisted of toiletries, underwear, night wear and a leaflet providing information on support services.
As well as requesting donations, the team carried out a variety of other fundraising activities. They hosted a charity quiz night in Jarvis Brook on Tuesday 29th August, and also raised money through a cake sale and a raffle, with prizes generously donated by local businesses.
Wealden MP Nusrat Ghani asked questions at the quiz night and offered the winning team an invite to visit Parliament, including tea with her and a tour of the chambers.
Commenting on the visit, Ms Ghani said:
The women who organised the quiz night as part of their National Citizen Service should be extremely proud of their successful fundraising for Sussex Nightstop. This local charity goes a long way in supporting vulnerable young people in Sussex. I am pleased to hear that the National Citizen Service team are working to build lasting connections between retailers and Sussex Nightstop in order to facilitate the regular donation of items; this will be an impressive legacy.
As well as the quiz, the team spent two mornings bag-packing at a supermarket in Heathfield, to help fundraising efforts.
To raise awareness, as well as money, the team organised a Silent Awareness campaign which took place in the Arndale Centre in Eastbourne. Five members of the team sat in silence on the floor in sleeping bags, to draw attention, whilst the remaining members of the team spoke to the public about their project. They also successfully collected donations of both money and items contributing to ‘Bags of Hope’.
Overall, including various donations, the team raised £900. Sussex Nightstop were given £700 to ensure the project continues, whilst £200 was spent on toiletries and clothing for the ‘Bags of Hope’. The backpacks themselves were donated to the team by ‘Everything Branded’, and will be distributed by Sussex Nightstop.
To ensure legacy of the project the team are working to build connections between retailers and Sussex Nightstop in order for them to be able to continuously donate items. In addition, they are creating a video for the charity which aims to challenge stereotypes surrounding homeless people.
The team said they were are incredibly proud of what they have achieved together, and are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a local charity to help others less fortunate than themselves.