Saints fans sleep outdoors to raise awareness of homelessness

A team of determined St Mirren fans spent a night sleeping outside in their team’s stadium to highlight the problem of homelessness.

St Mirren Charitable Foundation organised the Saints Sleepout after being approached by fans.

Other Scottish football clubs have held similar events in the past in a bid to raise money and awareness of homelessness.

This is the first time St Mirren has taken part and Gayle Brannigan, CEO of St Mirren Charitable Foundation, said it was a great success.

“It came about as a request from our fans, in particular Chris Dailly who took part, and was determined we were going to do it,” she explained.

“When he first asked us we were still in various stages of lockdown which is why it happened at this time of year. Usually they take place in the winter to experience the worst of the weather.

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“Everyone who registered was given a checklist including thermals, lots of layers, hats, sleeping bags, torches, blankets and things like that.

“I put down ground mats but otherwise we were outside just in our sleeping bags.

St Mirren Charitable Foundation organised a Saints Sleepout at the stadium to raise money and awareness of homelessness
The fans get ready to bed down for the night
(Image: unknown)

“We provided hot drinks through the night and they were able to go inside to use the toilet but that was all.”

A couple of people who had signed up had to drop out at the last minute so in the end there were five fans – Chris Dailly, Craig Mclean, Jack McGuire, Angela Tarbert and Garry Williamson as well as Gayle and Steven Holdsworth, the event medic who volunteered to sleep out with them too.

The fans slept out for 12 hours, from 8pm till 8am and had a special visit in the morning from Saints manager Stephen Robinson.

St Mirren Charitable Foundation organised a Saints Sleepout at the stadium to raise money and awareness of homelessness
Saints manager Stephen Robinson visited in the morning to deliver breakfast
(Image: unknown)

Gayle said: “We had the most amazing time, I hadn’t laughed that much in years.

“It was one of those nights where everyone was on great form. It started to go a bit quiet at about 1am with folk settling down. I stayed awake the whole night and there was no noise, it was so peaceful despite being in the middle of Ferguslie Park.

“You felt like you were in a wee cocoon in the stadium.

“As the sun came up people started to fidget and wake up. Then Stephen Robinson the St Mirren manager came along and brought us breakfast which was amazing.

“The assistant manager Diarmuid O’Carroll also came and apparently the team were training at Ralston and wanted to come and see us but they couldn’t.

“We will definitely do it again. We’ve got a lot of fundraising planned for over the year so we’ll need to see where it will fit in but we’ll try and do it in the winter.”

The group had a GoFundMe page which is still open and has raised a fantastic £4,115 which will be split between the foundation and Shelter Scotland.

“We were absolutely astonished to raise so much money,” said Gayle. “We’ve had a few people donating large sums anonymously which is amazing.

“It was definitely worth doing, it was very humbling.

“We were cold, it wasn’t comfortable but we were safe in a stadium, we had stewards looking over us and nobody trying to hurt us. We were there one night and had each other for company then went home to our warm houses and warm beds. That’s not the case for people who are homeless.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking in this day and age that homelessness still exists.”

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