YMCA Burton Sleepout 2020 – The virtual sleepout – together apart

YMCA Burton Sleepout 2020 – The virtual sleepout – together apart
November 11, 2020 CWan-Docksey

Last Friday we held our annual Sleepout. In a year where we have seen many changes and many cancellations of events, we were pleased to be able to offer our Sleepout in a virtual capacity and asked people to participate remotely – be it sleeping on the sofa’s, gardens, sheds, workplaces or a hillside in one instance.

130 people took up the challenge of “Sleep in or Sleepout – it’s your shout”

The Sleepout appeals to all ages with the youngest participant this year being India Bowman who at 2 years old slept in a tent in the garden with her parents and siblings Seth & Effie, the oldest participant was Ray Cooper who at 90 years old also slept in the garden with his son, also called Ray.

Temperatures reached as low as 5 degrees overnight but managed to stay dry. Many of the participants commented how vulnerable they felt taking part despite being in secure places.

We offered a live-stream event to accompany some of the evening which featured fundraising officer Paula Senior presenting the show, which included a music set from Chris Baldwin, a poetry reading by Tom Miller, speeches by President Ben Robinson and CEO Paul Laffey, a movie video tribute to our late colleague Sean Killion, a quiz and finally a bedtime story read by Peter O’Reilly.

The Live-stream was produced by local company Scorpion event Solutions, Director Edd Stanton said:
Scorpion Event Solutions was delighted to provide virtual services to enable the YMCA to take the 2020 Sleepout event online. The majority of events have been impacted by Covid-19, with large numbers unable to run because of it. The sleepout event is a key fundraiser in the annual event calendar for Burton YMCA and the threat of a complete loss of this event was very real. We felt we must step in and support the charity in this testing time, utilising our virtual production skills to enable the event programme to still run, while the event itself was held remotely. The online programme connected those involved in the virtual sleepout and drove further donations.

The significant and swift expansion of our virtual department is providing organisations with the technical support to run effective online events, meetings and services. In addition, our media branch, Fat Tail Creative, produces video and graphic content to ensure messages are delivered effectively and professionally.”

Fundraising officer Paula Senior said: “This year has been challenging for everyone as we have had to adapt to so much change. We wanted to offer Sleepout this year and offering a Virtual Sleepout meant we could still connect with supporters and businesses and raise much needed funds. We are thrilled that so many people gave up their bed for the night and really used their imagination to sleep in many different places. With the live stream, we felt connected to our participants and was a great opportunity to share our updates to everyone. Thanks to everyone who took part, watched, donated and sent us messages. We couldn’t do what we do without you.”


Paul Laffey Chief Executive YMCA Burton said: “Given the challenges with the second lockdown and the Government restrictions, I was delighted that the YMCA Sleepout for 2020 could go ahead.   Our staff worked extra hard to make sure everyone was safe on the night.   We are very grateful to every one of the 131 people that participated in the Sleepout, each giving up their own bed for the night.   I slept in a tent in our garden with Caryl my wife.   It was a very cold and damp night, but thankfully we had no rain.     We are truly grateful to everyone that has donated so far.   Funds raised will allow the YMCA to continue delivering housing support and homelessness services for the local area.    At the beginning of the Pandemic the YMCA staff assisted the Council get every single person off the streets and into a local Hotel.   We have 71 people currently living at the YMCA, many of whom have formally slept rough, in tents, garages, sheds or friends’ sofas.   The Sleepout is a stark reminder of what homeless people have to endure for many weeks and sometimes months.  Thankfully, we only had to sleepout for one night.”


We are still taking donations for the Sleepout, if you would like to help them reach their £50,000 target then you can still sponsor them via their website: https://www.burtonymca.org/sleepout/ 


Photo: The Bowman siblings sleeping in their garden for the Sleepout