World Sleep Day – Friday 19th March 2021

March 19, 2021

Today marks World Sleep Day, an event organised by the World Sleep Society (WSS) to raise awareness of the importance of good sleep and promote better sleep as a way to increase mental health and overall well-being.

Sleep is essential, and is as important to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing. It is also vital for maintaining good mental and physical health as a good night’s sleep can help us to recover from mental as well as physical exertion.

In the UK, it is estimated that around two thirds of the population (67%) sleep poorly most nights due to combination of stress, partner disturbance or lack of comfort. There is increasing evidence that sleep is critical for physical health and mental wellbeing – and, for children, school performance. For most of us, a single night of very poor sleep will affect memory, concentration, attention and decision making. Our mood will get less positive, our energy and motivation are depleted and our resistance to disease and infection will weaken.

But, on any given night, a significant group of people in the UK have an added reason for poor quality sleep: homelessness. According to the latest Government figures, collected in the autumn of 2020 and published in February 2021, 2688 people are estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night. Wanting a place to call home is a natural desire and a basic human right. However, the number of people affected by homelessness each year in London is considerable and growing.

YMCA St Paul’s Group is one of the largest providers of supported housing in London and beyond providing a safe place to stay for around 1,200 residents each night. YMCA St Paul’s Group want to get young people off the streets, keep young people off the streets and create opportunities.

Since 2010, a staple part of the YMCA’s fundraising has come from ‘Sleep Easy’ – a nationwide event which challenges people to sleep rough for a night to raise money and awareness for YMCA services that help young people rebuild their lives. This year the event will be held virtually, with YMCAs up and down the country sleeping ‘anywhere but their beds’, whilst still raising vital funds for the incredible young people that they support.

Richard James, Chief Executive of YMCA St Paul’s Group has said:

“As a year, 2020 was more difficult and heart-breaking than anyone could ever have anticipated, but one overwhelming positive that emerged was the power of community and the difference that can make to people’s lives. Even though we have been kept apart physically this year, we have ended up closer than ever. We know from our own experience that without the support offered by YMCA St Paul’s Group, many more vulnerable young people would be forced to sleep on the streets with less options and less chance of realising their potential.”

Every penny we raise at our Sleep Easy event will enable us to continue and expand our vital work through 2021, offering hope for our residents and young people who are affected by homelessness in our communities.

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