Leeds-based homelessness charity Simon on the Streets urges people to support 'Big Sofa Surf' fundraiser

Homelessness charity Simon on the Streets is encouraging people to take part in a lockdown-friendly sofa surfing fundraising event.

The West Yorkshire charity is asking residents, businesses, and families to spend the night on their sofas or floors to highlight the underreported issue of sofa surfing.

The ‘Simon’s Big Sofa Surf’ event on November 27 is inspired by the charity’s research into sofa-surfing, a hidden part of homelessness.

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Simon on the Streets say there are 71,400 sofa-surfers across the country, making it the largest form of homelessness.

Natalie Moran, CEO of Simon on the Streets, said:“We are asking people to sleep the night on their sofa and/or floor as sofa surfing is such an underreported part of hidden homelessness.

"When coronavirus hit, many people who were homeless and sleeping on the sofas of friends, family or acquaintances found this option taken away from them.

"No longer able to sofa-surf due to fear of coronavirus, they have faced sleeping on the streets.

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"Simon on the Streets has seen an increase in calls for help since the pandemic began - from people that have lost their jobs or accommodation and have nowhere to turn now they can no longer sofa-surf.

“We would usually have run our renowned annual sponsored sleepout at this time of year, where people spend the night sleeping outside in a city centre location which sadly had to be cancelled due to current Covid-19 restrictions.

"The sleepouts have been our key fundraising initiative for the past nine years which has raised tens of thousands of pounds and without this there is a hole left in our funds to enable us to continue to support vulnerable and homeless people on our streets.

“Simon’s Big Sofa Surf provides people an opportunity to continue to support us and we’re hoping people will embrace the sofa sleep in, get creative, have fun and make a genuine difference in supporting the homeless people across Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees at this critical time.”

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Anyone wanting to participate can register at www.simononthestreets.co.uk and obtain information about sofa surfing and guidance on creating a JustGiving page for sponsorship.

Throughout the evening, participants will also be able to share their pictures and stories across Simon on the Streets’ social media platforms using the hashtag #SimonsBigSofaSurf.

The team offers street-based, emotional and practical support for those who cannot access mainstream services. Part of Simon on the Streets’ role is tackling the behavioural issues and mental illnesses that result in homelessness and addiction.

For more information about the charity, visit www.simononthestreets.co.uk or tweet @simonotstreets.