A team of 30 volunteers is sleeping rough on Glasgow streets this week to raise money to support homeless people in the city.
They’re braving sub-zero temperatures for Teen Challenge Strathclyde – the local branch of the worldwide outreach and drug rehabilitation charity – from 10am, 13 January until 10am, 20 January.
Outreach worker Michael Sturrock lead the group onto Sauchiehall Street in the city centre today, where they brandished homemade signs to advertise their campaign.
“We have no shelter, no sleeping bags, no money and no food. What we are trying to do is live as a homeless person would, without having the privileges we normally have. We don’t know where we’re staying – probably a back alley,” he explained.
A former heroin addict, who got clean through Teen Challenge Strathclyde before working for them, Michael says that he understands how tough it can be for people facing homelessness and addition issues.
“I was a heroin addict for 14 years, so I know what addiction is like,” he explained. “I think there’s a stigma attached to the homeless people in Glasgow. They’re often frowned up and rejected by society. For me it’s somebody’s son or somebody’s daughter behind whatever issue they’re dealing with.”
This is the second year that Michael has taken part in the fundraiser, which has increased from two days in 2016 to a full week this winter.
“Last year we raised £900 over two days. This year we’re out for a week, so we are looking to exceed that,” he added. “We don’t touch the money we raise through our street collections. It all goes to people who are actually experiencing homelessness.”
As well as collecting money, Michael and the rest of the volunteers aim to share some of the stories of the homeless people they meet during the week.
“It’s about trying to do away with the stigma that’s attached to homelessness,” he said. “The homeless people we speak to tell us that they love someone to chat to them. One guy, Stuart, said that when people give him a minute and speak to him, he feels valued.
“Even for us, doing this, it lifts you up when people stop and speak to you.”