30 March 2020

Forced to think creatively in the Covid-19 crisis, local children’s charity YMCA Sutton Coldfield switched its annual Sleep Out to a Sofa Surf in its first virtual fundraising event last Friday night.

The Chamber of Commerce’s Chosen Charity which has been in Sutton since 1900 is no stranger to having to adapt; during the first world war, YMCA Sutton Coldfield opened its doors to soldiers based in Sutton Park and has now stepped up to the challenges presented by the Corona Virus.

The Sofa Surf event was a huge success with 124 people taking part and with participants as far as Northern Ireland and Leighton Buzzard.

Anita Ellis from the YMCA kicked off the event telling the story of Kieran who was a frequent sofa surfer before finding support at YMCA Sutton Coldfield. His story is a stark reminder of the issues facing the hidden homeless; invisible young people who are sofa surfing or sleeping on someone’s floor with no fixed abode and no family support. The event aimed to raise awareness of this issue along with funds to support the charity’s hostel.

Next up was Pete Morgan from Monkey Pants Productions with his live pub quiz featuring a YMCA twist, keeping everyone’s spirits up and kicking off sponsorship. A live broadcast from Plott Creative’s Anna Plotnek followed and a hauntingly beautiful poem about homelessness written and performed live for the charity by Emily Rose, Staffordshire’s first female poet Laureate.

The event has raised £9,584 so far with £2,400 alone raised by the Plott Creative team and their fantastic array of sponsors.  Anna Plotnek, Managing Director told us

“We were delighted to take part in the Sofa Surf on Friday and broadcast live from our living room. It was really fun and great knowing everyone was safe at home but still able to take part.”

Clare Whalley from Meta4 Business Coaching is a regular supporter of the event: “I was so pleased when the YMCA decided to move the Sleep Easy to a sofa surf so we could all continue to raise money and awareness for such an important issue.

With the new format I was able to involve my whole family, husband and two children, Isabelle (9) and James (5). Thinking it would be easy and fun to sleep on the sofa, Isabelle said the next day she felt devastated for the homeless, she spent the next few days tired and sad, realising the sofa was not a comfortable place to sleep, especially if it were to be night after night in a house where you might not feel particularly safe.  A harsh, but important lesson to learn. I personally felt like I was awake all night, usually sleeping like a log!”

Anita Ellis, Marketing Manager at YMCA Sutton Coldfield was particularly grateful for the support from Chamber members:

“Sleep Easy is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year but the safety of our supporters had to come first. When I realised there was a way to go ahead with the event and raise awareness of hidden homelessness whilst also keeping everyone safe, I had to go for it! So many businesses and Chamber members had already pledged support and donations for the event and so the switch to the sofa surf meant that we could build on this sense of community and get creative.

It was fantastic to see so many Chamber businesses getting behind the event and supporting the switch, it even prompted additional sign-ups which just highlights how supportive and strong our businesses community is.”