A HOMELESSNESS action group who slept out on the streets of Newport said it provided “a real eye opener” into the realities of sleeping rough.

‘Sleep Out Newport’ took place on Saturday, October 12, and was organised by Help the Homeless Newport and Cardiff to raise money - but also increase the conversation around homelessness.

Tariq Khan, who runs the group alongside Debbie Whitts, said the event “got people talking and taking notice”.

South Wales Argus:

Settling down for the night. From left tor right: Emma Louise Jane, Debbie Whitts, Tariq Khan, Jane Bevan, Helen Richards. Picture: Kamila Jarczak, Women of Newport

“A lot of people were passing by and engaging with us, asking us why we were sleeping rough,” he said.


Mr Khan, alongside Mrs Whitts, Jane Beaven, Emma Louise Jane and Helen Richards, slept under the British Heart Foundation shop front on Commercial Street.

“I don’t think we got any sleep,” he said. “We spent the whole night trying to get comfortable.”

“What was lovely was that one homeless guy offered his duvet to one of the ladies.”

South Wales Argus:

Tariq Khan helping out. Picture: Kamila Jarczak, Women of Newport

The night started with the team going to an outreach project and helping to serve hot meals to the homeless in the car park opposite the Wave on the Riverfront.

“There were about six different groups there, including Women of Newport, all working together," said Mr Khan.

“It was lovely to see.

“We also gave out tents and clothes.”

South Wales Argus:

Debbie Whitts helping out. Picture: Kamila Jarczak, Women of Newport

As midnight approached, the “nerves kicked in” and the team started worrying whether they would be warm enough and safe.

Yet they made it through the night and raised £600 – enough to cover the next two month’s rent at their community hub on Commercial Road.

South Wales Argus:

Various groups helping to hand out food. Picture: Kamila Jarczak, Women of Newport

The experience – both sleeping out and helping with the foodbank - has “brought everyone together” and there is now more “of a determination” for all the separate groups to work co-operatively, said Mr Khan.

“We all care, we all show kindness and compassion, but we need to get guys out of the doorways," he said.

“We do not want to see any more homeless people.”