Warwick alumnus and a former President of Warwick Raising and Giving (RAG), James Beavis, completed a month of sleeping rough on the streets of London on January 9, where he raised over £50,000.
James has been raising money and awareness for Crisis, a national charity for homeless people, dedicating themselves to ending homelessness by offering both services and campaigning for change. Each Christmas, the charity offers temporary shelter to more than 4,000 homeless people.
James went into the challenge with a target of £25,000. Indeed, James has doubled this with his final total, at the time of writing, of £50,206.42 including gift aid.
For the duration of the 31 days – which included the Christmas and New Year period – he has been documenting the experience through regular videos posted on to his Facebook page, Homeless at Christmas, which have attracted the attention of both local and national press.
In an article he wrote for the Guardian, James explained that he’d been washing in cafe toilets or sneaking into hospitals. He would buy tinfoil to wrap around his wrists, ankles and tummy.
James was getting 2 to 3 hours of sleep a night, which he stated was due to “the noise, the paranoia and the cold.”
In one post to the page, James highlighted the unpleasant reality of sleeping rough: “In the 4 weeks I’ve been on the streets I’ve been spat on, moved on, gone hungry, freezing cold and been disregarded by the general public.
“2 people have been killed in acts of violence, 2 people have frozen to death (both of which were seen by the general public) and there were 2 cases of homeless people being set on fire. This is just what I know about.”
A Crisis report released before Christmas highlighted the violence homeless people face, with more than 1 in 3 being hit or kicked.
On his fundraising page, James writes: “My point in doing this, is to spread awareness of homelessness, to change people’s attitude towards the vulnerable and to raise money for Crisis, a homelessness charity.
He went on to write: “My hope is that people will do something to prevent homelessness in their country, their community, and their family. I also want to show that homeless people are not all addicts, beggars, nor are they people too lazy to work, but they have something to offer the world.”
Now commenting on the experience, James said: “Both humbled by the support of those that know I’m doing it and disappointed in the general public’s attitude towards me that don’t.”
He added: “I hope that people have engaged but genuinely changed their attitudes.”
Patrick Lavery, current President of Warwick RAG, said: “We are proud that a former President still has fundraising and this cause at his heart – it goes to show that once you do some form of charity work, there is a long term impact that inspires you to carry on helping a cause.”