Charity sleepout aims to raise awareness and funds for homeless in MK

Posted 7th May 2024

Cranswick Convenience Foods, a Milton Keynes-based business, has joined forces with local homeless charity UnityMK, to raise awareness of the city’s homelessness crisis. The Big Sleepout charity event (8pm-6am, Friday 10 May 2024) aims to raise much needed funds to support individuals and families struggling with homelessness in Milton Keynes. Cranswick will be hosting the sleepout at their premises for a third year and is urging other local businesses, groups and individuals to get involved either by signing up to take part, or by donating much needed funds to support the charity’s work.

Cranswick is hosting the event at their onsite car park and will be providing access to toilet and wash facilities, cardboard to sleep on, hot drinks and first aid provision throughout the night. Participants will be joined by Milton Keynes’ mayor, Councillor Mick Legg, in what will be a cold and uncomfortable night.

Sam Pearl, Site Director at Cranswick in Milton Keynes said:

“Homelessness can affect anybody and continues to be a big issue in Milton Keynes. New figures from UnityMK show that cost of living pressures are exacerbating the problem, forcing more people than ever before to seek help.

“We hope that this event will help to shine a light on the very real problems that people in the city are currently facing. It’s an issue that needs to be tackled urgently – locally as well as nationally – which is why the work that UnityMK does in supporting people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, through no fault of their own, is so vital.

“As a substantial business presence in Milton Keynes, we want to do all we can to support our local community. Cranswick Convenience Foods has been fundraising for UnityMK as well as other local causes for a number of years and we are keen to ensure the issue of homelessness in the city is top of the agenda. Our colleagues and management are committed to supporting UnityMK’s work, not just through financial support and hosting the Big Sleepout but through the volunteering, employment and upskilling initiatives that we run.  We hope that our involvement in this event acts as a catalyst for other local businesses to get involved with this vital cause and prompts them to work with UnityMK to help reduce homelessness in Milton Keynes.”

Figures released by the charity Shelter last year show that the South East is second only to London for homelessness, with 8,610 people living in temporary accommodation or sleeping on the streets. In Milton Keynes alone, the figures are stark:

  • UnityMK meet with around 10 new homeless guests each week.
  • Around 50 guests sign into their welfare centre at Unity Park Station each day.
  • The charity supplies around 238 evening meals a week to all their guests.
  • UnityMK use over 60 litres of milk and over 40 loaves of bread a week at Unity Park Station.
  • The night shelter runs between November and April – always at capacity with 15 beds full every night.
  • 17% of night shelter guests during the 2023-2024 night shelter season were women.

Ria House, Fundraising Manager at UnityMK, said:

“We’re truly grateful to Cranswick Milton Keynes, who are a long-standing partner of UnityMK and make a big difference to several areas of our charity. Not only do they support us financially, lend their team as volunteers, and run events for us, they also offer employment opportunities, without judgment or bias, for people who use our services.

“The Sleepout is the biggest event in our fundraising calendar as not only does it raise vital funds for our work, but also highlights the struggles of those who are homeless and sleeping in MK in a very real way.”

Anyone wanting to participate in the Big Sleepout can sign up here – 

Case study from UnityMK

Edward was made homeless when he lost his job in Birmingham. He found work in Milton Keynes but ended up sleeping rough, unable to find accommodation. He found us online and came to us for help. We were able to offer him a bed in our night shelter and provided food, and showers, so he could keep his job while looking for accommodation. He soon found somewhere to stay and asked our welfare team for advice – we checked the lodging agreement to ensure it was legal and safe so he didn’t end up in the same situation that had made him homeless before. When we had the legal assurances in place, we paid the first month’s rent for him so he had time to earn enough to continue paying his rent and take care of the costs of setting up a home. Edward is now settled and working, and we will continue to support him as he rebuilds his life.