Have you heard of The World’s Big Sleep Out?
People around the globe spend one night out on the streets to draw attention to homelessness. It’s an incredible event, has raised an amazing amount of money to support projects to help those living in inadequate housing or on the streets, and one that has made a huge difference. One of the things we love about this event is even though, yes, just about every person who goes to these worldwide venues for that one evening returns to their own comfy beds the next day, the point isn’t to have participants walk away knowing what it’s like to be homeless — you can’t know what it’s like to be homeless unless you are — but to show solidarity with those less fortunate.
Experience is an amazing teacher.
The other thing we love is the SLEEP part of this (you’re not surprised; we know) and it reminded us of why we do what we do at Sleep Club — creating a unique way of allowing you to thrive in that intersection between SLEEPING, DREAMING and WAKING UP. We believe in a good night’s slumber. We espouse its benefits, offer you tips on how to make your room cozier, your bed comfy-er, and hope what we bring to the table on both our ASLEEP and AWAKE side brightens your world in some way. And as we step back from all of that, we looked into homeless rest — good sleep doesn’t come easy even in the best of circumstances, so how hard must it be to truly sleep well if your living situation is so tenuous?
While The World’s Big Sleep Out is a one-night event meant to bring attention to the overarching issue of homelessness and how to eradicate it, the evening shines a light on a broader need. We wanted to find those who are completely dedicated to helping this sorely at risk population feel safe, warm and secure at night. Who is helping them sleep better? Where can the homeless go and not worry about being even more in danger than if they were sleeping under the freeway? We found three that really intrigued us and we hope you’ll indulge us at this holiday season if we get a little, “Please help” on you.
There is a movement taking off across the United States and going global. Homeless have cars. They sleep in them. Where they park to do that, however, is not always safe nor is it welcome. Parking lots all over are left empty at night waiting for the next day’s slew of worker bees, shoppers and diners to fill them up.
That’s where Safe Parking comes in. This program was created expressly to offer homeless with automobiles a secure and protected place to sleep at night. There are requirements — your registration needs to be current, you need to be locked into the lot for the night and leave at the designated time, you need to pick up after yourself, etc. — but there are bathrooms offered, some have food and blankets, and all are set aside to help those lacking housing rest easier at night. Some companies are stepping up to help with things like free registration renewal for the cars that need it and although the program has met with some resident resistance in some areas, it is growing and gaining power.
Homeless No More sleeping pods
In Newport, Wales, they’ve taken the need to create a sweet slumber space for homeless to a new level. Through donations, lovely little sleeping pods are being built through the efforts of Amazing Grace Spaces, a local charitable organization dedicated to providing housing for those in need. These “room for one” overnight homes have a bed, a chemical potty, a charging station for their phones and are lockable via a keypad. The pods are emergency solutions to those who need a place on the fly but the goal is to take them further and make them even more available to any and everyone who needs somewhere safe to get their 8 hours of uninterrupted and truly secure rest.
Check out a book and grab a couch
Back in mid-November, we mentioned what public libraries are doing to help the homeless. They are offering up their couches and cozy corners for those in need to spend the night. These edifices that house hundreds upon thousands of books — and were my own personal haven as a kid, FYI — have stepped up to do their little part to make the hours when REM should be happening for all a possibility for those who have no roof over their heads.
You never know…
Just as with hunger behind closed doors, the person sitting in the cubicle across from you or who hands you your coffee in the morning or who parks your car at the restaurant tonight may not have a secure place to rest their heads at night. Homelessness is not an issue that just hits those who don’t work, are of a certain ethnicity or only those who are dealing with drug or alcohol addiction or mental illness. Homelessness is at crisis levels because so many of us are just one paycheck away from it. Not warm fuzzy thoughts, I know, but truth.
As you give a wide berth to someone curled up under trash bags, a lean-to of old boxes, overstuffed shopping carts strung together with wire and rope, you probably never wonder, “How are they sleeping at night?” The answer is, not well. But that can change and, as you can see, people are working toward changing that.
An exciting proposal came recently to the LA2050 project, the initiative to clean up and revive the city of Los Angeles in time for their next Olympics. Cardboragami Inc. accepted the challenge of addressing the homeless issue by proposing overnight pop-up sites for shelters. These unique and oddly beautiful little housing units can be easily put up just like a tent — but more durable and private — then taken down. They are currently accepting donations to make this a reality and we’re really looking forward to what happens with that.
For now, our own wheels are turning on how to make a good night’s sleep for those with inadequate housing a reality. If you have ideas, we’d love to hear them because all of us, no matter who we are, no matter what life has thrown us, deserve those 8 hours to rest, rejuvenate and rebuild.
It is what keeps us going and able to face the day.