Seven night rough sleep-out in aid of homeless young people

Mike Sheil from Buckland, Oxfordshire, is undertaking seven nights of ‘rough sleeping’ under a canvas in the seven churchyards of his local Parish of Gainfield.

From 12-18 December, Mike is switching from his warm home and braving seven long nights in the cold and rain to help raise awareness of homeless young people and support local charities supporting young people in need.

Throughout history, churches have been a refuge for people in times of need. By using churchyards in the Benefice of Cherbury with Gainfield, Mike aims to highlight the problems facing young people today and create a sense of common purpose amongst the local communities.

Mike has chosen to support Aspire Oxfordshire and Youth Challenge Oxfordshire, two charities working to support vulnerable young people to find stable housing and employment and address the challenges facing young people today including mental health, bullying and social media pressures.

Mike will also be joined by former High Sherriff of Oxfordshire and the current Chair of the Oxfordshire Homeless Movement, Jane Cranston. Jane likes the synchronicity of seven churchyard sleepouts whilst celebrating her 70th birthday and aiming to raise £7,000.

Mike Sheil, a former photojournalist, shared why he feels so strongly about helping young people in need:

“Having worked in over 60 countries around the world during my career, I have witnessed the impact of poverty on children and the UK is in no way exempt from this poverty and deprivation. Most recently the pandemic has disrupted the lives of children and young people across the country and has left many vulnerable young people in difficult situations.

“Like many of us, when I was young, I made mistakes, but I received support and help that enabled me to get back on track and pursue a successful career. That help I received has inspired me to give back and support the next generation who are growing up in daunting times.

“I feel that we would be failing as a society if we didn’t seek to support our young people whose lives have been so disrupted. They are the future of our country and society.”

Donations to sponsor Mike through the seven sleep-outs can be made on the fundraising webpage.