Winter is drawing nearer, and with it the days have gotten shorter, and the weather has gotten colder. This poses a considerable challenge for those that are homeless as they are struggling to stay warm.

There are many charities in the UK who are trying to combat homelessness and help the people that are having to live on the streets. One of these charities is DENS. DENS is a charity in Dacorum that was formally established in 2003 in an effort to provide help for homeless people. It has since expanded and now also aids those that are facing poverty and social marginalisation. Their help comes in various forms such as day centres, temporary accommodations, food banks, and more. However, these projects need to be funded.

One way the charity raises money is through fundraising events. An example of an event they have run is the sponsored sleepout which took place last Friday at John F Kennedy school. The sleepout is an opportunity for participants to challenge themselves as they sleep outside (without a tent) in extremely cold conditions. In doing so, not only do they gain a better understanding of how difficult winter is for those that are homeless, but they also raise money (through their sponsors) to support DENS in helping those that are forced to sleep rough.

A DENS sponsored sleepout is something I participated in a few years ago and I was surprised by how different it felt to just camping. We slept in our sleeping bags on cardboard (which is a good insulator) under the night sky. While it was cold, they made sure that we were provided with warm drinks and an indoor area in case the conditions became too difficult. They also provided us with entertainment (such as a silent disco) during the evening which helped lift our spirits and boost our morale for the cold night ahead.

Overall, it was an interesting experience, but the greatest part was going away knowing that we had helped people by doing it. Being told that, by sleeping outside for one night, we were helping make sure others did not have to, caused me to feel a sense of joy and accomplishment. No one should be forced to sleep outside. Just one night could help change other's lives and that definitely made the experience something worth doing. This event is something I would highly recommend to others to try and that I would love to do it again.