YMCA Sleep Easy 2023

All News Posts

On Friday, three members of the NM team bravely volunteered to join the YMCA Derbyshire Sleep Easy to help raise money for people sleeping rough in Derbyshire.

An incredible event with a brilliant cause, we were excited to continue to great tradition set by Richard Pettinger in previous years.

Here’s how it went:



I’ve always been one of those people that can sleep anywhere. Oddly shaped chairs, hardwood floors, I’ve even been known to sleep in jeans (I know, I know, just shy of an act of treason). My head usually hits the pillow and I’m out like a light.

But I have officially met my match – sleeping rough was awful.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an incredible event. The atmosphere was one of camaraderie amongst the volunteers, all wrapped up in blankets around the fire and helping each other out with tips on how to build the best box to sleep in or ways to keep out the cold. The organisers at YMCA did an outstanding job.

But, even in our cosy (and brilliantly designed) box; it was loud, uncomfortable, cold, and absolutely horrendous.

When it came to packing up and heading home, I was very aware of how lucky I was to be going to a safe, warm bed. Although it was a memorable experience, it’s not something I would wish on anyone, and it’s definitely changed my perspective on what it means to sleep rough.



Growing as a person often involves learning the difference between sympathy and empathy – and the YMCA Sleep Easy definitely helped to convert at least a little of the former into the latter for those who sleep rough on Derby’s streets.

As someone prone to whimsy, I was initially excited for the actual making of our cardboard shelter – envisioning all the castle-like fortifications I would pester my colleagues to add and looking forward to chatting around the fire.

But then it got cold. And wet.

At that point all the whimsy and excitement started to slowly drain away from me like a deflating airbed as I realised that there was nowhere warm to go (for at least the next 8 hours). All we had was the ramshackle shelter we had created with the limited resources available to us. That was it.

At that point I got it.

Or at least, as much as I could get it given that at the end of the event, I had a house to go home to.

It was this realisation that converted just a bit of that sympathy into empathy – imagining how I’d feel if I couldn’t in fact go home, each night being the same cold, dark and lonely experience with no end in sight.

The Sleep Easy was a fantastic way to give just a small insight into how much a struggle life is for Derby’s sleeping rough – I can’t say it was fun, but I’m so so glad I took part.



When Richard casually asked us who was going to step up from the NM Team and take part in this year’s YMCA Sleep Easy, Molly eagerly nominated the three of us… and I avoided eye contact.
Little did I know, it would be one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. (I am so glad you persuaded me, Molly!)

Despite our enthusiasm and excessive layering of clothes, it was cold. But for us, this was one mildly uncomfortable night, whereas for others this is the reality of what they have to face every single night.

Nothing makes you realise quite how lucky you are as sleeping rough does, especially knowing it’s to help those who don’t have a nice warm home or bed to go home to the next morning like we did. I’m so pleased that we could be part of the fundraising for such an important cause and support all of the amazing work the YMCA Derbyshire do.

Related News Articles