Sleeping Safely…


Scarlett changed me. In many ways; my stomachs less flat now, my torso is decorated with tiger stripes and I quite often don’t brush my hair on a day to day basis (ok so that happened before Scarlett but what can I say, I have very curly uncontrollable hair!) I knew my life would change when I had her, as I have a brother a decade younger than me, I had experienced a second hand version of all encompassing love for someone you look after. What I didn’t realise is how much it opened up my protective feelings and a want to do better and be better in the world. It breaks my heart when I see how difficult it is for other children who don’t choose what family they are born into and don’t choose the life they lead. I’m not trying to be smug, I’m not saying that Scarlett is lucky to grow up with such perfect parents or anything, far from it. But she will always have hot meals on the table and she will always have a safe warm bed to sleep in. Many others don’t, and this isn’t necessarily because of bad parenting, or the famed stereotype that they must have an alcohol or drug addiction. 

I recently read a heartbreaking story of an 18 year old girl who lost both her parents and through a variety of reasons, fell through the system set up to protect people. She ended up on the streets because at 18 and suddenly responsible for looking after herself, she had no idea where to turn, or how to help herself. The thought of her not having anyone to protect her and look after her makes me cry every time I think about it. My beautiful daughter will hopefully never have to be in such a position that she finds herself with nowhere to turn. But I’m sure the aforementioned girl’s parents never once imagined that their precious daughter would have to end up on the streets after a completely unforeseen set of circumstances. As soon as I read the story it made me want to reach out to the parents and tell them that I would find her and help her. Luckily, in her case, she was helped, on the cusp of being taken advantage of. A life of prostitution and potential addiction was a single hair width away. But how many people’s stories aren’t published with a happier ending? How many young people and older people for that matter, find themselves, due to a certain set of circumstances, on their own, on the streets, desperately grasping for survival.

For all my grumbling that I can’t work out the boiler so sometimes it’s too hot, and complaining that it’s been so long since I’ve been to the cinema (I know, I know, someone should do a fundraiser right…?!) I have SUCH a charmed life in comparison and since becoming a Mother, it’s become hugely important to me to try and help other people, even in just some tiny way.

One of these ways, is that on Friday 6th March, I am sleeping on the streets with some others, for the Cheltenham YMCA’s Sleep Easy 2015 campaign. Now firstly, I almost feel like a fraud because we will have a cardboard box given to us, and we’ll be in a safe and guarded area, more than most homeless people get. But the closest I’ll be able to get to experiencing what life must be like for thousands of people in the world. It can often be frustrating to see a problem and not be able to solve it, homelessness is a big problem, even when just looking at the UK and although I know it won’t be solved by my one night sleeping on the street, it may mean that one other person looks into what can be done, or a few pounds go towards helping a few needy people in my home town. 

My online fundraising link can be found here and if you can share it with others who may be able to help, or donate a few pennies or pounds towards the cause, I’d be hugely grateful. 

Since Scarlett, I feel things more deeply and I care about things in a different way; it’s not that I didn’t care before, I’ve always thought that raising money for charities was important but, and I don’t know if other Mums have felt this, but I have this need to know that if my loved ones were ever in a tricky situation or going through a really hard time, that someone would reach out their hand to help them. And if I’m not willing to do so myself for others, I can hardly expect to live in a world where people will do that. 

So yes I still complain about the boiler not working properly, and I get grouchy when we’ve unexpectedly run out of milk, I often live the first world problems stereotype! If you are able to complain about these things or see them as problems, take comfort in knowing that you must have a very charmed life. I am very lucky that I have the time, money and resources to help out others in a much more desperate position than myself and since having Scarlett, it’s become much more important to do so. I was brought up with the message that you should treat others as you wish to be treated and it’s a message I wish to install in my daughter. The world is generally a nicer place when we’re all working together to help and support one another, and I know I sound a little bit like an idealistic hippy by saying that problems can be solved with kindness and togetherness. But it’s worth a try, after all, the Beatles famously sang, “All You Need is Love” didn’t they? Yes I know, they also sang, “We all live in a yellow submarine”, but it can’t all be solid gold! 

It was raining heavily tonight, my husband and I listened to it outside our window as we curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea with our infant daughter fast asleep upstairs in bed. Having set up my Just Giving page, it occurred to me that I hoped it didn’t rain on the 6th March, and then it occurred to me that for a lot of people, every day is the 6th March and they don’t have any choice if it’s raining or not. Right now there are people all over Britain doing all they can to escape the weather.

I knew life would change when I had a baby, I knew my body would never be the same, i had no idea what an impact it would have on my heart. But it’s an impact I am grateful for, Scarlett gives me inspiration and motivation every single day and I hope that when she grows up and always, her world remains a safe and happy place.


One thought on “Sleeping Safely…

  1. Veronika Jordan

    Danielle this takes me back to how I felt when Tom and Sam were little. Every terrible news story about children of a similar age cut me to the quick. These stories had always upset me but I started to take them personally and imagine what it would be like if that was my child alone and hungry, abducted, lost etc. It’s a brilliant thing you are doing. I really admire your courage.

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