Imagine you were 16 again. In the UK.
Now imagine you’d fallen out with your foster family, because you’re own parents were not around.
You’re out on the street. Alone. No where to live, no where to go.
You’ve still got to go to school.
You need to find food.
You still need to able to wash.
But you’re 16. You don’t qualify for unemployment benefit because you’re supposed to be at school or at college.
You’re 16 – possibly with poor education (those years of being moved from one school to another as foster families change don’t help). So getting a job is pretty hard (but you should be in school or college according to the law now). Even then its going to be low paid, a few hours. Not enough to live on.
There is a MASSIVE hole in the benefits system that means 16-18 year-olds fall through the cracks for support at this most vulnerable time in their lives.
One Charity that makes a difference for children (because that’s what they are really still children) is ‘Action for Children’. They have people that help.
Help find children a place to live, get the benefits they need, get back on track to becoming an adult and most importantly keep them off the street, away from drugs, prostitution and all the other nasty things that they could be dragged into.
They also are trying to lobby to get the laws changed so that these people who are in trouble are NOT ignored by our society.
Each year, a whole group of technology people in and around Bristol get together to raise money for this worthwhile Charity. Apart from the usual fund raising techniques, their ‘big’ event is called ByteNight (come on programmers you know what a byte is). About a hundred people sleep out overnight – rough without shelter. All together about a thousand people do this across the uk in Bristol, London, Birmingham etc. Last year they raised just over £1 million on that one night alone.
I took part. It was my first ‘proper’ charity event. Ever. And it felt good. Really good to realise that I was going to make a difference that could have a direct impact on someone’s life. Yes I’ve done things in the past that have an indirect influence – but not this direct.
This year they are doing it again – and this year I’m doing it again too! I’ll be there on 2nd of October in Bristol with just a fleece, sleeping bag and roll-mat sleeping out rough and hoping to make a contribution to this very important organisation.
If you’d like to make a donation to my efforts then visit my just giving page and put some cash into the collection jar.