When you think of a night out in Cardiff, a few things immediately spring to mind. For us lucky ones, sleeping bags and discomfort aren’t usually among them…
The night of 8 November has to be one of the more unusual ways we’ve spent a Thursday evening – or any other evening for that matter. After all, we can’t recall the last time we danced at a silent disco in the middle of a car park, took on the police in a tug-o-war, and slept rough.
Sleeping out for Llamau
Llamau is the Cardiff-based charity that works tirelessly to help young homeless people across South Wales by providing safe, secure and supported housing. As official sponsors of the charity’s first Sleep Out event, CPS Homes had sent enthusiastic support on the night in the form of a merry band of intrepid staff members led by non other than director Barrie James.
“I'd never intended to get involved beyond our donation to the event, but it looks like Llamau are better sales people than me!” Barrie said. “By the end of the call I'd signed up and, by the end of the day, one had turned into eight.”
Indeed, fully ‘thermalled up’ on the night were also Nikki, Marvina, Becky, Matt Humphreys, Gareth, Matt Butler (and his girlfriend Emmy), all intent on raising awareness for a good cause, having fun – and keeping warm.
In good company for a great cause
In all, around 65 people took part in what was an excellently-run and hugely fun Sleep Out, one of eight similar events taking place around the UK.
While the Sleep Out brought ‘sleepers’ a step closer to the reality of homelessness, the event felt more like a mini festival, with a friendly atmosphere, bands and musicians, a few crafts stalls, a silent disco (complete with awful singing and young DJs with 30-second attention spans), and local up-and-coming comedian Matt Rees. (“I don’t know why people in Wales put up with spending 5p on plastic bags when you can buy a shopping trolley for a quid.”)
The night also featured free Dominos pizza, party bags, a TV crew running around, and tug-o-war. (Have these things ever been listed together before? We think not.)
The less said about the tug-o-war the better, really, though in our defence our opponents did enlist South Wales Constabulary into their ranks. CPS fared considerably better in the impromptu game of mixed football on the flood-lid astro-turf, we’re proud to say.
Money earned and lessons learned
The total raised has yet to be announced, but we know that it’s already far in excess of Llamau’s hoped-for £10,000. Organiser Sue O’Brien is “absolutely thrilled” to have already raised enough to pay the wages of a support worker for 6 months.
“Before the Sleep Out, we hoped to raise £10,000,” said a clearly-chuffed Sue. “During the event, we thought we might reach £15,000. At the last count of everyone’s Just Giving pages alone we’re currently at a massive £18,372.” <br>
For most of the CPS crew, it was a late finish. If you know this part of West Cardiff then you’ll be aware that the stadium is just over the road from a certain fast food franchise, a visit to which seemed sensible. After all, the illuminated golden arches sign had glowed temptingly at us throughout the long night.
Not a lot of people know this but you’re not allowed to walk through the Drive Thru. Fortunately, Glenn from Barry didn’t mind us car-jacking him and depositing his sister Joanne on the pavement while we stocked up on lovely warm junk food. If you’re reading this, thank you Glenn and Joanne.
By 5.30am the traffic was noisily streaming into the city, making sleeping almost impossible. With stiff and chilled limbs, we hobbled away from our cardboard beds no longer having any illusions as to the grim reality that is a night out under the stars in the city in November.
“Next year I’m changing out of my suit trousers before going to sleep,” concluded Barrie philosophically.
Who’d have thought trying to get some shut-eye would be such an eye-opener?