Guest post: Simon on the Streets.

BGL is concerned about how society marginalises people, especially the homeless, former prisoners, the disabled and those who just fall through the cracks for seemingly no reason. This week we’re highlighting these people and finding out what can be done and what is being done to help them out. Today we have a guest post from homeless charity Simon on the Streets, who provide all kinds of assistance to people living rough in Leeds and around West Yorkshire.

Simon on the Streets invites you to join them for the ‘Sponsored sleep out’

On September 29th we will be hosting our second ‘Simon on the Streets sponsored sleep out’. The event will be a key opportunity for you to join us in raising funds and awareness for some of the most vulnerable individuals in our region.

The sleep out will begin with a tour of the ‘hidden’ world of rough sleeping in Leeds and we will share with you some of the challenges faced by homeless and rootless individuals. The journey will lead back to the sleeping site with a demo on how to build a bed for the night and some soup.

Once beds are built, the sleep out will commence! During the course of the event you will be supported by the Simon on the Streets team who will ensure that you remain safe and secure throughout the night.
Last year over 50 participants joined us on our first sleep out and we received fantastic feedback on how the event had helped them to empathise with the challenges faced by our service users. Those who took part also remarked on what a great night they’d had – the buzzing enthusiasm of the participants helped to create a fantastic atmosphere.

Viv, one of last year’s participants said:
“I felt this was a great opportunity to learn more and I really enjoyed the experience. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. Before the event I thought I understood issues faced by the homeless, but I didn’t … and that was the biggest thing I learnt!”

The Simon on the Streets sponsored sleep out is open to those over the age of 18 and you can join us an individual, group or organisation.

Simon on the Streets is a Yorkshire based charity offering outreach based support to homeless and rootless individuals in Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield. The role of a Simon on the Streets support worker is to offer individual support to those who are homeless; at risk of being homeless; those struggling with behavioural and mental health issues and those who are struggling with an addiction.
All your efforts will help us to continue supporting homeless and rootless individuals to create positive change in their lives. So this year, join us for the Simon on the Streets sponsored sleep out and help us to make this our most successful fundraiser to date!

For more information on the upcoming Simon on the Streets sleep out please visit or email
For general information on Simon on the Streets and the work of the charity please visit or follow us on twitter @simonotstreets

BGL will hopefully be able to take part in the event, and hopes to see some of you there.

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4 Responses to Guest post: Simon on the Streets.

  1. Chris James says:

    Great event – hopefully Simon on the Streets will get a fantastic turn out

    • Paul Thomas says:

      I’ve rarely come across anything as self-indulgent as this. Like those campaigns to persuade us to starve ourselves for a day to empathise with famine victims, it will do absolutely nothing practical about solving the problem but nevertheless makes some people feel good about themselves by raising our “awareness” (it seems we’re just never “aware” enough today) and demonstrating how caring they are. But then that seems to be its main purpose, as on visiting the ‘Simon on the Street’ website the first thing you see is an ‘Empathy Exercise’.

      And how did you come up with such an awful, infantile sounding name for the charity? It obviously reflects the child-like view of both those who sleep rough as well as those taking part, who “Simon on the Street … will ensure … remain safe and secure throughout the night”. After all you don’t want to spoil “a fantastic atmosphere” and people’s “enjoyment” of having a “great night” sleeping outside.

      Rather than indulging in public displays of empathy wouldn’t a campaign for jobs – crucially through the building of much needed affordable housing – be a better way to tackle homelessness?

      • Paul, this is just a fundraiser. The organisation is trying to help those who are on the streets in a real, direct way by working with them, and the sleep out is a way of raising badly-needed funds to carry on working in that way. It may not be the way that you would solve the homelessness problem, but this is a complex problem that has many different angles of approach. A campaign for jobs is not working with the homeless directly, which is what Simon on the Streets want to do – and given how many people just pass by people on the streets all the time anything to raise awareness has to be a good thing.

        Would you question people who throw themselves out of planes in the name of Macmillan, who work with people with cancer, instead of directly funding Cancer Research, tackling the issue from a different angle, in the same way?

  2. Paul Thomas says:

    I disagree that “anything to raise awareness” is a good thing. And in fact the idea we all need our awareness raising about things we are generally already aware of is patronising, self-serving and turns social problems, and their solutions, into a problems of individual attitude (see Are YOU Aware, FIPA, 6 May 2010).

    First, the assumption behind all awareness campaigns is that we either lack any knowledge of those problems, or sufficient awareness of their severity and importance. Our ignorance, one assumes, is meant to contribute in some way to the continuance of these problems. But in reality what they do is to turn social and medical problems into an issue of a lack of individual awareness – so the solution becomes raising it. As such, these campaigns are completely self-serving. They don’t aim to solve social problems but simply make us aware of them and, at best, alleviate some suffering. But there will never be a point where people are “aware” enough – thus guaranteeing those in the awareness industry a job for life. At the same time it allows those same people to demonstrate their smug sense of moral superiority over the rest of us who “just pass by people on the streets”.

    This campaign is about individuals publically demonstrating how aware and empathetic they are. It’s an act of collective public masturbation. Re-read the article, this is about them feeling good having a “great night” spent under the stars – while kept safe from any harm of course. After all, you wouldn’t want the real world of the great-unwashed and the even greater un-aware spoiling “a fantastic atmosphere”.

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