Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Patronising or Publicising?

Last year we saw something called 'homeless chicenter the fashion arena. Then we began to see more and more organisations fund-raising by organising 'Sleep outs'. It now seems that some people have begun to take time out of their everyday lives to experience life as a 'homeless person'.

On the one hand I realise these people may have good intentions, but are they misguided. Surely this is patronising to those that are forced into this way of life, or is it an honest way of publicising the issue and breaking down stereotypes?


  1. Hey there spike. I think it's whatever it is to the idividual who's doing it. The first night is the hardest, while every night after gets a little easier. I am roughing it for 60 days and 60 night to raise awareness and create small projects and drives with the homeless commuity in Tampa Florida. You can follow the story on twitter @ 60days60nights, or at my website


  2. hi spike...
    As J.Swain CEO of Thamesreach said in article published in Inside Housing 17/9/2010 and also on twitter...People will never understand homelessness,if every campaign is based on rough sleeping image..Please no more sponsored sleep outs...
    A member of general public,with experiance of street homelessness....
    ps J.Swain was a outreach worker in the 1980s

  3. Why is doing a sleep-out any more patronising than buying a Big Issue, or donating to a street collection, for example? The consciousness raising is as important as the fundraising, they feed each other.

    I watched Charlie Brooker's anti-tv tv show last night. He presented it from a bomb site populated by rat-eating homeless blokes all watching the shiny party going on in tv world. By emphasising the sterile unreality of tv world, he makes the point that if we believe the nasty materialist dream spewed out of the tv into our empty lives, we can never find home. We can never get in.
    A bit like a sleep out

  4. There are several reasons why I believe Sponsored Sleep outs to be patronising.

    I dislike the camaraderie that goes along with the build up to one of these nights. It makes a joke of the real harshness of rough sleeping. I have worked with countless rough sleepers over the years who would rather commit a crime and go to prison than spend another night out. I have had to look people in the face, time and time again and tell them they will have to sleep out a few more nights (potentially weeks) because there is no accommodation available at the moment. I have had grown men in tears, because they can not take another night out on the streets and don't know what to do.

    These 'Sleep Outs' also seem to ignore the danger aspect of street life and rough sleeping. Many people have been attacked, been in the wrong place at the wrong time. One rough sleeper I worked with had been kicked, beaten and urinated on by several 'suited' men, just because he was homeless and they thought it was a bit of fun. If you look closely at the pictures from these 'Sleep Outs', you can usually see that they have locked themselves in a church yard, or used barriers to contain themselves into a specific space. This is generally not something many rough sleepers can do. I wonder what Health and Safety guidelines are in place when organising these events? Something rough sleepers do not have the luxury of.

    Finally, when was the last time, the fundraiser at a dog's home decided to live like a dog for the day? Heaven forbid, someone from an eating disorders organisation should starve themselves for a week to highlight the issues in order to raise some funds.

    It would be ridiculous and there would be a social outcry.

    Take a leaf out of the book of St Mungo's, they have a variety of fundraising scheme, check out their Woolly Hat Day, Running Challenges or their Street Stories exhibition