Release date: 19 March 2021
A firefighter who experienced homelessness is preparing to spend three nights under the stars next week to raise money for a cause close to this heart.
Worthing Blue Watch Crew Manager Steve Foster will take part in The Great Tommy Sleep Out Challenge in aid of Royal British Legion Industries to support the estimated 6,000 veterans that are currently homeless in the UK.
He will be joined by fellow firefighter Matthew Harris and his 11 year-old daughter Eloise who will join him for the final night of the sleep-out, which begins on Wednesday (24 March).
Steve said: “Very few people will know this, but around seven years ago I became homeless and found myself living in a tent in a nature reserve for a few months over the winter period. I managed to hide the fact I was homeless from my family and my employer, but I was lucky enough to still be employed by the fire service and have a fire station I could use to shower and have some sort of normality in my life. Others aren’t so lucky.
“That is why myself and Matt will be taking part in The Great Tommy Sleep Out Challenge, braving the cold and potentially wet March nights, sleeping under the stars to help get veterans off the streets and into safe, warm housing and support those with disabilities.”
Having run his plans past the police for guidance on current COVID-19 restrictions, he has been given the greenlight and will be sleeping rough for three nights from Wednesday under the stars on the outskirts of Worthing, Chichester and Burgess Hill, whatever the weather.
Steve added: “We will be doing this with no provisions or financial back up, so no food or our wallets. If you happen to pass us, please feel free to stop by with a bite to eat or a brew. But if you pass a rough sleeper on your way then please give it to them instead.”
Chief Fire Officer, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, said: “Returning to sleep out on the streets, even for a few nights, is not a decision anyone who has experienced homelessness would make lightly, and so I understand what a huge step this must have been for Steve to take. But I would like to commend him for taking his own experience of homelessness and using it for a force for good. It is such a worthy cause that he, Matt and Eloise will be raising awareness for and I would personally – from the bottom of my heart - like to wish him the very best of luck for the challenge.”