It all started in 2016 when we saw a 70% rise in demand for our services over a 12 month period.
As rental prices continued to spiral and the housing crisis worsened, we knew that urgent action was needed to ensure that we could meet the growing need for our wrap-around Housing & Homelessness Prevention Services, and in turn prevent even more families and individuals from having to face the reality of entering crisis emergency accommodation.
Taking inspiration from a number of long-standing supporters who challenged themselves to ‘sleep out’ in their gardens and local villages, we called on the people of Galway to come together for our first-ever community-wide Sleep Out for Simon; a flagship Galway Simon event that aimed to increase awareness of the homeless crisis in the West, while also raising much-needed funds to directly support our essential services.
That year, 34 people came together in solidarity with those facing homelessness by swapping their beds for sleeping bags for one night. Skip forward four years later to 2019, when a phenomenal 165 people took part across five countywide locations!
During this short space of time, the annual Sleep Out has made a significant impact on our vital Prevention Services throughout the county. In the last two years alone, funds raised through the Sleep Out have directly supported over 500 individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness here in Galway.
Each year, the sense of unity and purpose experienced on the night is incredible. It’s this, alongside the participant’s outstanding fundraising efforts and community spirit that has led to the annual event’s growing success.
When asked what they enjoyed most about the Sleep Out, some past participants have said…
“I was very touched by the power and strength of the people who took part – amazing people who want to make a difference. Each year I walk away with new friends”
“It is one of the best nights of my life knowing that I’m helping others and knowing we can make a difference”
“The fantastic sense of community, care, giving, and involvement of people from every background”
“The community spirit and the level of generosity was very eye-opening and inspiring”
This year, the Sleep Out will take place virtually but the sense of togetherness won’t be lost.
Whether we spend the night in our back gardens or bed down on the living room floor, we will continue to be united by raising vital funds and awareness in support of those facing homelessness during this critical time of need. Participants will also be connected on the night as they join our Sleep Out community online from wherever they are in the world to follow a schedule of engaging and reflective activities including music, mindfulness, and storytelling.
Funds raised through this year’s Virtual Sleep Out have never been more important. It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year and will play a vital role in helping to safeguard our essential Homeless Prevention Services in the difficult times that lie ahead.