Katie Bulmer-Cooke: The turbulent times facing so many people in Sunderland
Last week I was asked to host the North East Supporters' Event for Sunderland-based charity Centrepoint, having recently become an ambassador for them.
It was a real privilege to be asked to be involved and play a part in such an important event.
Centrepoint help young homeless people find a home and a job, supporting them throughout the process, and I first became aware of their work when their Facebook page popped up in my feed.
I read through their posts, all of which where extremely moving, for two main reasons. Firstly, I was saddened that so many people from the same city and region as me had been through such horrendously tough times, and secondly, with the help of Centrepoint, so many young people have made vast improvements to their lives and the success stories are simply incredible.
When I then found out that all of the money raised in Sunderland goes directly back into helping young homeless people in Sunderland, I knew I wanted to get involved and was delighted to become an ambassador.
If you’re a regular reader of my column, you’ll remember that back in November I took part in the Sleep Out at the Stadium of Light. It was harder than any half marathon I’ve ever run, that’s for sure!
It was freezing, we slept on a hard concrete floor and the next day I just couldn’t function properly, but the event raised tens of thousands of pounds so it was all worth it.
The event was well attended but it would be fantastic to get even more people from Sunderland taking part this year ... nudge, nudge, wink, wink!
Last week’s event was extremely inspiring as three young people very kindly and bravely shared their stories.
Zinnia, Tamara and Tom have all been through unimaginably tough times but have completely turned their lives around and are using their experiences to help others.
Centrepoint isn’t about giving a young homeless person a bed for a night, it’s about helping them gain skills, secure jobs and apprenticeships as well as finding them a home.
Until I started getting involved with the charity, I had no idea that so many people in our city were experiencing such turbulent times, and at such a young age.
I personally feel that as a city, we have a responsibility to look out for each other and to help those who find themselves in extremely difficult circumstances.
It’s easy to turn a blind eye and it’s easy to take your home comforts for granted, but it’s also easy to get involved with Centrepoint and make a really positive impact.
Whether it’s taking part in an event to raise money, or giving a few hours a month as a volunteer, it all makes a difference.