Huge Boost For Homeless…
Taking part in TV’s DIY SOS, having a trainer designed especially for them along with a star-studded line-up of fund-raising events has given Blackburn charity Nightsafe a huge boost
It’s been a whirlwind couple of months for Blackburn charity Nightsafe, which recently took part in Children in Need’s DIY SOS creating accommodation for homeless young people.
The BBC film crew and a team of local volunteers worked on the project in St Silas’ parish hall converting the premises into accommodation for six young people aged from 16 to 18.
Nightsafe CEO Jan Larkin recalls: “I had been in talks with the Rev Sheelagh Aston from St Silas’ who asked me if Nightsafe could make use of the hall.
It’s a great space and I knew it would make great accommodation. We considered a number of options, it was quite complex, and we knew we needed funding. We got to the stage where Sheelagh just said, ‘Jan, there’s nothing else we can do but pray’.
“Literally a few days later Children in Need approached us! They came and spoke to us to get an idea of what we wanted to achieve through DIY SOS, and the rest is history.”
The Children in Need DIY SOS Big Build team, headed up by TV presenter Nick Knowles, started work on the property with a team of volunteers in mid-September and today, the Nightsafe accommodation – Safe@Silas – is up and running and fully occupied.
Six rooms with mezzanines, along with a kitchen and living space and an outside decking area with raised beds, is providing homes for youngsters who will be able to use the accommodation for up to two years, during which time they will gain their independence: “Nightsafe is about empowering young people to become independent,” says Jan, who recalls the DIY SOS ‘big reveal’ on a beautifully sunny autumn day: “We all had to close our eyes as we were guided into the building and when we opened them we were stunned! It is an amazing transformation.
“Outside in the sunshine were around 300 people. It was such a fantastic day – it was very emotional! Everyone did a great job.”
“St Silas’ is part of a lovely community which has been so supportive of this project.”
Nightsafe has also recently received welcome support from Adidas designer Gary Aspden, who out of the blue, approached the charity with the idea of designing a Spezial trainer for Nightsafe.
“He said he would be in touch,” recalls Jan. “The next thing we knew everything was ready to go! It really is a beautiful shoe in green and red suede in the colours of the Lancashire rose.”
Not only did Gary design the shoe, he helped raise money through an exhibition of Adidas trainers, including his own vast collection, and a series of hugely successful gigs in Blackburn last month featuring the likes of Goldie, Dynamo and Primal Scream.
“The exhibition attracted people from all over the world! It made £1200 in the first four days,” says Jan. “Gary has been amazing. He is such a talented unassuming guy, who wanted to bring artistic talent to Blackburn with Darwen and raise awareness around Nightsafe. It has been great for the North West as a whole and it has raised national awareness around homelessness too.”
The funds raised by the exhibition and events, will go towards funding a full-time member of staff at the new Safe@Silas accommodation on Preston New Road.
“Gary has agreed to be Nightsafe’s first ambassador, which is great. He really gets what we are about,” adds Jan, who is currently appealing to people to take part in Nightsafe’s biennial sleep out, which is taking place at St Silas’ on 6th December.
“The last sleep out raised around £20,000, we had fantastic support. This year Simon Antrobus the Chief Executive of Children in Need is joining us. People find the Nightsafe sleep out a very humbling experience, many have not done anything like it before.”
SLEEP OUT SO OTHERS CAN SLEEP IN
Friday 6th December 2019
St Silas’ church grounds
9pm – 6am