Emma Dolphin, Events Intern at Bethany, shares some of her reflections from this year’s #BigSleepOut which raised over £21k to help end homelessness.

This was the first year I had helped to organise the Big Sleep Out and as the event ran smoothly, I was beginning to feel like the event was a true success despite the -1c weather.

During my shift on Gate security, something happened that helped me to really begin to understand the true purpose behind Bethany Events.

We had a homeless gentleman approach us. He had heard we were doing an event to help homeless people and he desperately needed assistance. As I waited for a member of Bethany Staff to reach us, he told me his story and mentioned something that I will never forget: “If I don’t get out of this weather soon, I’m going to go and smash up some windows because at least if I’m arrested I get fed and somewhere to stay. I’m running out of options.”

Imagine having to make that choice: Imprisonment, warmth and food or freedom, the cold and the danger of hypothermia. It’s impossible.

We managed to secure the gentleman a place in one of our shelters for the night, allowing him to stay warm and out of danger but it really struck me, if we didn’t have dedicated fundraisers helping us, services such as the shelters wouldn’t have the money to keep running. Then this man would have had no choice but to get himself arrested and potentially imprisoned.

As an events manager, it’s really easy to get sucked into the technicality of putting on an event and forget the purpose behind it. For me, this was a real light-bulb moment. Our event and others organised for Bethany Christian Trust are not just about running a successful event or even just about raising a lot of money – they were about giving people choices and a hand up when they needed it.

That, to me, is the essence of what Bethany Christian Trust does. It gives support, friendship, a hand up to homeless people across Scotland and helps to end homelessness, one person at a time.

All those positives in exchange for some hard work and a night in the cold streets of Edinburgh was completely worth it.