TeamKinetic’s youngest member, James, participated in the YMCA ‘Sleep Easy’ challenge, raising a total of £250 for the charity. The experience contributed towards TeamKinetic’s wider ambition to support more causes in need of support through the contribution of our time, effort and expertise.   

Read about his experience, the challenge of Homelessness and the work of YMCA:

On Friday, 2nd  March, I swapped my usual routine of enjoying an evening indoors with my friends or family, for a night of sleeping it ‘rough’. Participating in the YMCA Sleep Easy Challenge, I spent twelve hours setting up my temporary shelter and sleeping out in it.

Homeless Shelter

James’ Shelter Before the Rain

Arriving at Cambridge Rugby Club, I was unsure of what to expect from the night, other than to be cold and at least some rain. I joined a convoy of other stragglers finding our way to the club from the distant car park.

Arriving at the clubhouse we found the all sheltered areas had already been taken and the remaining areas we exposed to the elements.  I put my rucksack and sleeping bag down at the end of a row, securing my spot on the edge of shelters. I set around to find the cardboard boxes available and created my temporary shelter, using a life bag to waterproof the roof.

Once completed,  I joined the other twenty-five volunteer embracing the YMCA Challenge. Provided with some tummy warming vegetable curry, by Food Cycle Cambridge, we spoke about why homelessness was a cause for concern and how the YMCA is helping to support those vulnerable.

The ‘Rough’ Facts:

  • Accurate figures of homelessness are hard to capture due to different local authorities having different definitions of ‘homelessness’ and lack accurate methods of keeping track
  • 4,751 homeless people bedded down outside overnight in 2017, up 15% from the previous year
  • Across the UK it is estimated 3,500 people sleep rough in the UK each night, with one-fifth of these are young people aged between 16 to 24.
  • The statistics show that 92 local authorities had rough sleeping rates that were worse than the national picture.
  • Thirty-two authorities, including Barking and Dagenham and Barnsley, claimed to have had zero rough sleepers.

(The Guardian, 2018)


  • YMCA is the oldest and largest youth charity in the world
  • Provides support and advice, accommodation, family support, campaigning,  health and wellbeing, training and education.
  • YMCA has over 58 million members in 119 countries worldwide
  • supports projects for vulnerable young people in over 20 countries worldwide
  • Over 800 dedicated volunteers in 2017

(, 2018)

As the evening continued entertainment was provided by Joshua Francis. A talented artist who has an experienced firsthand the support from the YMCA, he bought to life his colourful experiences through a heart touching and brutally honest performance of his own songs.

Following his performance, he spoke to several of us before setting off on his way. As the night quietened down, we turned our attention to the rain that had been pouring down, testing the durability of our shelters. Although slightly damp, the shelter had survived the first bought of rain.

I climbed into my sleeping bag, crawled into my shelters and tried settling into a comfortable position to fall asleep. Eventually, I fell asleep for a couple of hours, only to be woken again by the second set of rain pouring down heavy onto my shelter. It was this bout of rain that reduced my shelter to a  collection of piled up cardboard boxes, plastic wrapping and a wet sleeping. It was safe to say, if I ever did this again, I would have to consider how to better equip my shelter for the rain.

James' Shelter Following the Rain

Shelter Following the Rain

As I laid in the cold, I comforted myself by counting down the hours I had left.  I was fortunate enough to be able to return home, to a comfortable bed in my home once this had finished.  For those who are homeless, this luxury is not an option and instead, they are faced with a much more undesirable reality.

Finally, dawn broke and I climbed out from my wet cardboard mush to seek refuge, found in a hot cup of tea to bring warmth to my body.  By 6:00 am everyone was awake, packing away their shelters, with a coffee in one hand and a cinnamon roll, again provided by Food Cycle. Everyone was eager to find warmth and retreat to their homes following a rather restless night. Once the site had been cleared of rubbish, the dry cardboard recycled and volunteers thanked everyone, I set off to return home.

It was the journey home that provided the opportunity to reflect on how fortunate I am to have somewhere I can call home, a network to support me and opportunities that offer a safe and secure future.

This experience has given me the smallest taste of the physical conditions they experience. I could go inside to a toilet, for food, warmth and the clubhouse if I needed. I was not subject to experience freezing temperatures, the torrential rains or snow. Nor did I experience the mental and emotional challenges that such vulnerability inflicts. To understand that, I believe you truly have to be in that position yourself.

Participating in the challenge reinforced my sentiment to supporting those affected by homelessness. I want to continue working to raise awareness of the issue, encouraging others to do so too and to raise funds that will directly benefit those affected.

The YMCA Trinity Sleep Easy volunteers collectively raised £12379.52 at the time of writing.

With donations still welcomed:

If you would like to read more about the work of TeamKinetic take a read through our blog or if you would like to learn more about volunteer management software please get in contact with one of the team.