What it was like to sleep under the stars – Anthony Fitzgerald

Following the CEO Sleepout last month, Anthony Fitzgerald reflects on the reality of sleeping under the stars and the importance of doing our bit to help tackle homelessness as a very real issue. 

I guess I knew it was real when I went shopping for leggings in the afternoon. Having borrowed whatever outdoor equipment I could from our Chief Nurse; sleeping bag, mat and a rain jacket, it was with some trepidation that I arrived at the Keepmoat Stadium for the CEO Doncaster Sleep Out.

Fortunately there were 16 other hardy souls who were equally ready for the uncomfortable experience of sleeping rough.

CEOs and Senior Officers hearing from the Doncaster Complex Lives Alliance

Having taken on a warming cup of soup, we received talks from the CEO Sleepout team, Doncaster’s Complex Lives Alliance and from our hosts for the evening, Club Doncaster Foundation.

In their separate ways, these organisations are all doing their bit to improve lives for people within local communities. The passion and commitment given by all the speakers was truly humbling and inspiring.

Then to the outside. We were ‘entertained’ by the Doncaster Tuneless Choir. They certainly lived up to their name, and got us involved. But I must admit, I was disappointed not to be recruited as a permanent Tenor!

Around 10pm, I decided to try and see if sleep was possible. It was cold, but mostly wet and provided a real insight into what it must be like being homeless and not having, what many people take for granted.

If I’m honest, I didn’t sleep much – which gave me plenty of time to try and boost some sponsorship. Talking of which, 78 donators helped me to raise £5 shy of £1,500, which smashed my original target of £800. And out of all 48,737 ‘Just Giving’ fundraisers worldwide in October, I was in the top top 5%!

So I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone that donated.

In all, the Doncaster CEO sleep out raised approximately £18,000 – a phenomenal achievement. These funds will go directly to organisations such as Real Help Doncaster and be used in the fight to eradicate homeliness in Doncaster. It will give people who sleep rough for more than one night, a real fighting chance to improve their lives and situations.

Dawn came and I found my way in doors, greeted with a Bacon Sandwich and Coffee – it had never tasted so good.

So what did I learn?

  • If you are going to sleep rough, check for slugs before doing so
  • Sleeping rough, even in a relatively safe space is uncomfortable, wet and unpleasant
  • There are so many incredible people who have and continue to dedicate their lives and careers to improving the lives of those less fortunate, and there are many generous people across Doncaster willing to support them
  • I can’t sing!

I wouldn’t rush to do it again, but I guess that’s the point. It’s a realistic ambition to eradicate homeliness in Doncaster, and I’m glad I could do my bit to support this ambition. Together, we will help fight this important issue.

Thank you all again for your support,
Anthony.