02 Jul Two sleep outs will confuse public and damage us, warns Bat…
A homelessness charity has raised “grave concerns” that the public will be confused over a Bath Rugby Foundation fundraising effort.
Homeless shelter Julian House is worried that the foundation’s ‘Rec Sleep Out’ will negatively affect its own ‘Big Bath Sleep Out’.
Julian House claims the foundation said a similar event it held in 2018 was a one-off and is now concerned to see it is being repeated.
However, the foundation – which works with vulnerable young people who may not have had the same opportunities as others – said last year’s successful event was never labelled in that way.
Chief executive Lynne Fernquest said: “The Rec Sleep Out 2018 was our first sleep out event but never considered a ‘one-off project’ – anymore than the challenges our young people face are a one off.
“Sadly, poverty and the threat of youth homelessness in our community is growing not falling and we are calling on everyone in B&NES to play any part they can in changing the outcomes for vulnerable young people.
“We would encourage everyone to support one or more of the many charities in our community, including Julian House, who are doing great work.”
The foundation agreed to donate a percentage of the 2018 sleep-out proceeds to Julian House.
This year it will be returning on November 6 as it aims to fundraise and raise awareness of youth homelessness.
Julian House has been holding sleep-out events since 1993 and held its 10th annual ‘Big Bath Sleep Out’ event this March.
It believes the foundation’s fundraiser will cause confusion amongst supporters and the general public.
In a press release released this week, it said: “There is no doubt that Bath Rugby Foundation does some terrific work with schools and youth groups but its influence on homelessness is hard to measure – it is not listed as an area of focus on their website.
“While they may discuss this topic as part of other projects there are several other local agencies that have been doing this work for years with considerable expertise and based on massive experience of delivering important (often lifesaving) services.”
Cecil Weir is the fundraising director for Julian House. He said: “There is a convention in the voluntary sector that sleep out events are organised by good causes which have a direct and meaningful impact on homelessness in the locality where they are staged.
“I am sure that the last thing on the Bath Rugby Foundation’s mind is to negatively impact the work of Julian House but unfortunately that will be an unintended consequence if they go ahead with their sleep-out plans.”
Julian House says it is respectful of the foundation’s work but is convinced that this fundraising project will adversely affect its own work with some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society.
It also claims that several long standing Julian House supporters signed up for the Rec event and didn’t then participate in the Julian House March sleep-out and that others thought it was an event being run by Julian House.
Ms Fernquest added: “No charity can claim any fundraising event is ‘unique’ to them. Sport is at the heart of what we do at Bath Rugby Foundation, but it would be unfair of us to say all charities who use sport to generate funds are confusing fundraisers.
“Bath Rugby Foundation is a 16-year-old charity that annually works with upwards of 3,000 vulnerable children and young people in B&NES.
“The disadvantaged young people we support fall into or are born into poverty, have a special educational need or disability (SEND) or are marginalised because of race or gender. In a nutshell they have had the toughest start in life.
“We combine sport and education in a unique way to help these children and young people create better futures for themselves. We collaborate with primary, secondary schools, other youth groups and with the many other youth charities in B&NES. We are looking to expand this partnership network for the benefit of disadvantaged children and young people in our city.
“One of our most impactful programmes is a year-long employability scheme based at The Rec which, from September, will support up to 60 B&NES youngsters Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET).
“We know from 12 years’ experience in this sector that more and more of these young people face extremely fragile living conditions – in increasing numbers they are sofa surfing, on the cusp of homelessness or find themselves homeless.
“Charities rely on fundraising to fund part or fund all of the excellent work they do. Fundraising takes on many forms, including runs, walks, swims, cycling events, and increasingly varied community events from tough mudders to bubble rushes.
“To mark our 15th birthday as a Bath charity in 2018 we decided that The Rec Sleep Out would serve a valuable purpose – to raise awareness of the growing problem of youth homelessness in and around our city and also raise funds for Bath Rugby Foundation.
“We were clear with everyone who took part.”
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