On Friday 10th May, 36 young people from Penistone Scouts and Scorpion Explorers, slept rough to raise awareness and funds for the youth homeless charity Centrepoint. Our youngest participant being just 10.5 years old! I’m writing this, somewhat tired, 24 hours after we started the event, reflecting on how incredibly proud of the accomplishments, monies raised and how our young people continue to surprise us.

Our programme was simple: gain an insight into Centrepoint and youth homelessness, for the young people to set themselves up for the night by preparing and lighting fires, building shelters, learning how to put together a survival bag and then get through the night – either by staying up, or trying to get shut-eye under the temporary shelters. Oh, and to raise £1000 in the process!

Right from the off, the young people were engaged and took on board the hard-hitting reality of what homelessness is, the different circumstances that lead to it and how we can support people less fortunate than ourselves. To kick things off, we shared a number of short films produced by Centrepoint with the young people. You can see the film reel yourself if you follow the link or watch below:


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With minds focused, the young people headed out to collect firewood, light fires, build shelters and prepare things for when the time came to bed down. After supper, we asked the young people to consider what it might be like to be homeless and then arrive at one of Centrepoint’s hostels. With this in their minds, we asked them to write a message on a postcard to someone in that position – hopefully to inspire them, reassure them and/or provide a level of comfort to them. When we came to review the postcards, we were taken aback at some of the things they’d written. We’ve shared some of them below – please consider this your mascara warning!

  • The past is the past, but the future is still being made.” – Jacob C
  • You are a brilliant person. You have battled through life like a champion and emerged strong, so you can’t give up now. You must persevere and achieve your hopes and dreams. Whenever you feel isolated or upset always remember to talk there is always someone to talk to and listen and help you.” – Ryan O
  • Life is like a camera, focus on what you like, and if you don’t get what you want, delete it and take another shot! You can always take another and start your new self.” – Jacob Ch
  • “You may think that letter is pathetic and you may think I don’t know what it is like. You are right I have no idea what it is like for you. My message may sound pathetic but good luck. I sleep in a warm bed every night and I am spoiled, but tonight I am sleeping under the stars on the cold to try and experience what it is like for you.” – Phoebe
  • I just wanted to let you know you do matter, you are loved and you are amazing in your own way. You will find yourself and at the end of all the pain will come success. So the pain you feel is only temporary, but if you give up on yourself it will last forever. You can do it and you are loved.” – Zach
  • Hi, I understand that things are hard for you, but I want to tell you to dream big even if there has been a massive mishap in your life, please don’t give up. Life is a river and there are many ways it can go, but eventually, it comes together and it comes out a happy life. You can be who you want to be, you can do anything if you try and free yourself to do. Listen to the song ‘I lived’ it describes you.” – Cassie
  • Dear young person, keep going with Centre Point as they will help you with your future life going forward.” – Evie
  • Just think you have hit rock bottom so the only way to go is up. There isn’t  really much I can say for I have not experienced the hardship you have faced (unless school counts) I am in awe of your resilience and persistence.” – Joseph
  • Hello my friend, I understand that you have recently found a haven and I would like to offer some advice. Do not refuse help from anyone who offers it, unless they look dodgy. Best wishes.” – Tom
  • Hello. Right now even though things might be tough, you must keep going. Start any setting small goals for your future and build on them. Having a goal of getting up in the morning is the key to getting started.” – Henry
  • You don’t have to give now you can carry on with a normal life.” – Joe
  • I hope you find a home soo and lots of friends to talk to/ Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Good luck with your future.” – Caleb
  • Hello, I hope you have a good life no matter who tries to put you down. Social media is dangerous and do your best to ignore the negative comments.” – Harry
  • However bad the future may seem you will be grateful for the situation you are in as it will be better than your past. It will drive you on to accomplish great things and help others around you. Believe in your self and you will have a bright future.” – Ben
  • While you are living at Centre Point try and stay positive. It may seem hopeless, but you will pull through. Take life in small steps. You have a place to stay, don’t lose hope, it will be fine as we humans can get through endless problems and so can you. we are right behind you.” – Hana
  • Hi, I hope your life gets better for you after what you have been through. Good luck.” – Ashton
  • Don’t be scared, I know it must be difficult for you right now, but you should never give up. Be brave and try hard, and you will find success. Don’t let anyone stop you. YOU can turn your life around.” – Kaya
  • Hello, You are having a bad time. Believe in yourself. if you want, have a beer or just chill but make sure you do something with your life. You can have a family of your own one day.” – Anonymous
  • Hi, just wanted to say I don’t think you get the credit you deserve because what you have been through. It’s inspiring to many how you carry on. I really do hope you can get your life back to normal. Good luck.” – Alice
  • I am writing this letter to wish you good luck for the future. I don’t have any experience of being homeless and being by yourself. I am really grateful for what I get and I know that it must be hard for you. I cannot truly understand how you feel being out in the scary world. You are very brave and I wish you the very best of good luck in your life.” – Katie
  • My name is Joe and I live in a house. I take things for granted like warmth and food. I know you have to struggle to survive and life for you is hard, but when you are at rock bottom the only way is up You have to believe that things will get better. Good luck.” – Joe
  • I feel privileged to live in a house and have a family. You have turned a new page in your life story by being at Centrepoint. Things WILL get better in the future. Good luck.” – Luke
  • I imagine times are hard for you at the moment, but Centrepoint will look after you. You have such a fascinating and adventurous life ahead of you. We are all small specs living on our planet wondering through the cosmic web. So enjoy life, explore beyond your limits, prove to yourself that you can do more because you can.” – Tommy
Wow! Now, that may be a wall of text, but we were inspired and frankly dumbstruck by many of the contributions!
At check-in, each of the young people was given an envelope containing tokens. Each of those tokens was for specific items available at the soup kitchen; from tea, coffee, mugshots, cup-a-soup, to later in the evening – jacket potatoes, and come breakfast, beans on toast. Not every envelope contained the same set of tokens, and therefore if there were items that the young people didn’t like or necessarily want, they had to figure out they needed to trade or swap with others. To support the young people, several of the leader team remained awake throughout the night, either out on the field or manning the “soup kitchen”.
The weather forecast wasn’t brilliant, and we did experience quite a lot of rain, but none of the young people complained about being cold, fed up or showed any signs of wanting to bail out from a full night sleeping out. We are incredibly proud of their achievements, how they got stuck into the event and finally how much money they’ve managed to raise in sponsorship – which, at the time of writing stands at £1161!

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed! We will leave the Justgiving page open until the 1st June – if you’d like to donate towards our fundraising you may do so here. We’ve included a few bits of information below that highlight both what your money can achieve, and an excellent view as to a young person’s journey through Centrepoint.

Thank you!