Extreme Sleep Out is back for the second Christmas running! Cicerone author Phoebe Smith is braving the elements as she takes on 100 miles along Hadrian’s Wall – while wearing a Superhero costume!
The Hadrian Hundred for the Homeless is the third instalment of Extreme Sleep Out. Last year Phoebe completed her solo ‘Sleep the Three Peaks’ challenge over Christmas, and could be found dangling from various iconic landmarks in the summer. She says that this will be her toughest challenge yet. To date Extreme Sleep Out has raised over £28,000 in support of Centrepoint’s work with this challenge set to take the total well past the £30,000 mark.
While young children everywhere will be keeping their eyes peeled in the hope they spy Santa from their bedroom windows this Christmas, those in the north of England may in fact see not St Nick, but rather Wander Woman - adventurer and writer Phoebe Smith - who has given up her Christmas to walk a self-devised challenge called the Hadrian Hundred for the Homeless.
She will be starting in Sunderland on the shortest day (and longest night) - where the young people's homeless charity Centrepoint's northernmost office is based, then walking 100 miles in just 4 days - that's nearly a marathon a day - all while dressed as a walking superhero.
"You can't wild camp on the wall - it's illegal, so I will have to walk slow and steady throughout the night, in cold and dark conditions. I will have little rest, miss out on festivities with my family and friends and, to top it all off, will be doing it all in costume."
It may sound crazy but Phoebe, who is president of the Long Distance Walkers Association, feels that giving up her Christmas is well worth it, to highlight the plight of the many thousands of young homeless people who have to also keep moving throughout the night, unable to sleep anywhere legally and safely, every single night.
"I am lucky enough to have an end date to my challenge, but there are so many who don't. Their walk will seem endless - and would be if it wasn't for organisations like Centrepoint who not only help house them, but also teach life skills and offer on-going support and services of mental health professionals too. Temporary discomfort, freezing conditions and exhaustion will be well worth it, if I can make my fundraising target and help end the growing problem of youth homelessness in the UK."
Last year over 100,000 young people approached their council for help with homelessness, meaning that every mile Phoebe walks represents over 1000 young people who have dreams, who would love to have the chance to see loved ones over Christmas, but who can't.
"I get to choose to do my crazy challenge, but they do not," says Phoebe, "and I hope every step I take is one step closer to stop another young person from living on the streets."
Phoebe is attempting to raise £5,000 which could provide 200 young people with a counselling session with a mental health care professional. Counselling and psychological support play a huge part in tackling the root causes of homelessness as they help young people come to terms with their past and look forwards to their future.
You can follow all the action on social media on @PhoebeRSmith and @CentrepointUK for live videos and updates.
You can donate here: www.justgiving.com/WanderWoman
If you are a young person aged 16-25 who is worried about homelessness you can call the free-phone Centrepoint Helpline on 0808 800 0661. The Centrepoint Helpline is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.