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Virtual Sleep Out Raises $5000 For Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Written by
Irene Suvillaga
and
and
April 14, 2021
Virtual Sleep Out Raises $5000 For Youth Experiencing Homelessness
Photo courtesy of 'nbeninger' on Flickr.

On Friday, March 26, with the support of her friend Jocelyn Enright, Trent student Simal Iftikhar held a virtual sleep out in an effort to support and raise awareness about youth and families experiencing homelessness. Iftikhar’s fundraiser event was hosted by the Peterborough Cares umbrella group and took place on Instagram Live. The event consisted of several participants sleeping outside in their backyards or garages. During the event’s livestream, Iftikhar and her friend Enright were joined by Brooke Erickson, the Community Engagement Manager at Youth Emergency Shelter (YES) Shelter.

“I saw shelters in other cities and countries doing sleep outs to raise money for shelters,” Iftikhar expressed to The Peterborough Examiner, “I just thought with the pandemic, we are seeing a crisis in a crisis.” 

With wintertime and COVID-19, agencies and shelters helping these individuals have reached full capacity and are unable to further help those left out on the streets. Iftikhar’s virtual sleep-out was created in the attempt of shedding light on this crisis and showing support to individuals who have no choice but to sleep out on the streets. 

There was a great response overall from people in and outside Peterborough.  The fundraiser was beyond success raising more than $5000, exceeding Iftikhar’s original goal of $1500. 

The overwhelming response to the virtual sleep out event has made Iftikhar think about doing it again next year. However, her work doesn't stop here. In a written interview, Iftikhar stated that beyond this fundraiser, she will continue to do her part as an individual by learning more about this issue and how to address it.“I hope to continue informing myself on homelessness, prevention, and what we can do to help those suffering from this systemic issue. I hope to also do this or other events but continuing to research and read on it is also one of my goals.”

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