A SHARE volunteer spent the night sleeping rough in Chester to raise funds for a new project.
Sandra Johnson, a full time volunteer at SHARE’s Chester store, spent 36 hours in the shoes of the homeless with her colleague Julie Lewis and friend Michelle Fisher.
The charity, which has a store in Chester, is attempting to raise funds to buy derelict houses that can be converted into homes for the homeless.
SHARE will assist in getting the re-homed people back into full time employment and give them hope and a chance at a much better life than before.
More than £56,000 has been raised since the beginning of the year, as well as £1,065 raised from the sponsored sleepout.
Sandra, who had nothing but the clothes she stood in, a mobile phone, a bottle of water and a £5 note as part of the challenge gave a powerful insight into how it felt to be homeless.
She said although never feeling scared, the saddest part of the whole experience was witnessing the amount of drugs being used on the streets.
“I empathise with the homeless a lot more than I ever have after this experience,” she said.
“I felt really lonely and very scruffy and people look at you differently - that was a horrible feeling.
“We walked for miles and miles looking for something to do because we had nowhere to go.
“We huddled in a doorway, smiled and said hello to the passers-by but no one would even look us in the eye.
“I wasn’t scared at all at any point, I know what’s out there in terms of support but what saddened me the most about the whole experience was seeing the amount of drugs being used by youngsters hanging around the parks at night.
“When somebody is new to the streets and finds a homeless community, they approach them for advice and support which isn’t always the best thing to do because they get dragged into their way of life.
“I think you need to be a very strong character to be able to survive the streets.
“Nobody should have to live their life this way.”
Sandra said although help is out there for the homeless, a large number ‘don’t help themselves’.
“Everybody living on the streets has a story to tell but what I learnt is that a lot of them can be very selfish - they don’t help themselves a lot of the time.
“For a lot of people, the streets are all they know and for many of them, their addiction is their priority.
“Our project will help take homeless people off the streets and help rehabilitate them by showing them a better way of life to help them move on.
“However, those who want to be a part of the project will have to earn their place in the house.”
Sandra thanked everybody for their ‘trust and for the support they have shown’ following the event.