The Lady Mayoress’s 2023 Sleep Out took place on the night of 16th March. Guildhall Yard was illuminated for the whole of the night, hence the need for an eye mask!
The origins of this event are the inspiration of Amanda Keaveny, Lady Mayoress for 2022. Amanda is also one of our Freeman. The event was such a success that the current Lady Mayoress, Felicity Lyons, has continued a focus on supporting the real concerns of homelessness in the City.
On the night there were approximately 100 individuals who had volunteered their time and commitment for such an important fund-raising initiative and I was really inspired by the 86 of whom were individuals who had either been supported by the Pret Academy or the leadership team of the Pret Foundation. Pret connect with individuals who they find on the street and extend an opportunity to engage offering support and rehabilitation into housing and work. I recommend that you visit the Pret Foundation website to learn more about this impressive initiative. I will try to ensure that whenever I go into a high street venue for food or drink in future, I will endeavour to support Pret a Manger. The work they carry out is inspirational. I spoke to individuals who were the outreach workers, the facilitators in the Pret Academy, but most importantly those individuals who had been helped. Those individuals talked about the hand of friendship they had been offered when life chances had seriously gone wrong. They talked about the importance of feeling valued by the Pret family. They were engaged in the programmes offered by the Academy and even headed to their programme having slept out for the night in Guildhall Yard. I was not expecting this experience, but I am so pleased I had the chance to share the night with these people in Guildhall Yard. I built connections, talked to anyone who I met, and slept under a bust of William Shakespeare, situated at the front of the Guildhall Art Gallery.
I would like to share my experiences approaching this event. I began to notice individuals on the street much more sensitively than I had before. Past experiences of working in central London had always drawn me to be concerned if the person lying in the doorway of John Lewis were just asleep or really unwell. I have since built a relationship with a number of individuals who reside at Cannon Street Station and I now provide something of sustenance from Marks and Spencer as I pass by to or from events in the City.
Fund raising continues for a few more weeks so if you have not already done so, I hope my experience might touch your heart and your pocket to support one of the most important initiatives in the City of London today. The Lady Mayoress’s Just Giving page is here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/felicity-lyons3
If you use this link, please also notify us via email@example.com so that we can keep a record of donations made.
Just a final note, I really was not sure of how to prepare for the night. Following guidance, I headed to Superdry a store for outdoor clothing, and a delightful shop assistant helped me choose a coat. Very cosy, but she was also very generous as once she knew what I was up to, she gave me a discount on the cost! Kindness that was really unexpected and we completed the transaction with a very special conversation about her experiences.