On Thursday 19 October you can - but there’ll be no creature comforts…
On housing firemen and their families in the 1900s, London Road Fire Station provided relatively plush living conditions; ventilation, hot water, even central heating.
But there’ll be no such luxuries at Sleep Out in Manchester, when hundreds of Mancunians swap their beds for sleeping bags and camp out for a night in the now-derelict building.
Proceeds from the October event - one of fourteen across the UK - will go to youth homeless charity Centrepoint, which supports over 9000 young people each year; providing practical support and advice for those at risk of homelessness, as well as access to essential life skills and the chance to move into education or employment.
Despite Mayor Andy Burnham’s pledge to end rough sleeping in Manchester - donating 15% of his £110,000 salary to a newly created homelessness fund - there is still a long way to go. Regional figures released in January showed a 41% rise in homelessness over the previous year, and those without shelter had quadrupled since 2010; making work like Centrepoint’s invaluable.
Regional Fundraising Manager Ben Bowden said: “Sleep Out is a thought-provoking experience that everyone should try. We aren’t trying replicate the terror of spending a night on the streets with nowhere else to go - but you will feel some of the cold and discomfort rough sleepers have to endure every night as winter begins to set in.
“We want you to have some fun at Sleep Out but there’s a serious side to it. The money we raise will help support vulnerable and homeless young people here in Manchester to get urgently needed support and gain the skills and confidence they need to live independently."
As well as raising money for a good cause, Sleep Out also offers a unique chance to visit London Road Fire Station before work on the Grade II-listed landmark begins. Left to rot under Britannia’s ownership for 30 years, the building was brought in November 2015 by developer Allied London, whose development plans - including a boutique 91-room hotel, restaurant, bars, cinema, luxury spa, office space and apartments - were recently approved.
Sleep Out Manchester will take place on Thursday 19 October and £25 registration is now open for participants at centrepoint.org.uk/sleepout. One not enough? It’s followed by the Booth Centre’s annual Sleepout event at Manchester Cathedral on 10 November.
Three more charity challenges coming up this year...
THE GAUNTLET GAMES| Heaton Park | Saturday 16 September
Featuring fifteen of its signature obstacles - including Flume of Doom, Monkey Business and Belly Slide - plus some new surprises, The Gauntlet Games returns to Manchester for more crazy conundrums in Heaton Park. Gladiators, slam dunk, inflatable obstacles, bounce and splash, tipping seesaws and a wobbly bridge…encounter all these and more as you make your way round a 5K or 10K course. What’s more, the event supports over 200 charities; with 2017 headline partners including The Princess Alexandra’s Hospital Charity, Ty Hafan and St Ann’s Hospice. After something more family-friendly? The latter is running both a 1K sponsored walk and 3km dog walk this year, while The Halloween Fun Run promises to entertain young’uns with a host of creepy characters.
KRYPTON CHALLENGE | Museum of Science & Industry | Saturday 23 September
Much like the original eighties game show, this one-off event is hosted by Gordon Burns and will test challengers both mentally and physically through the likes of memory tests, response rounds and an obstacle course. The Krypton Challenge is part of Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity’s ball: for £2500, enter a team of five to take on the tournament and a table for ten people will be included in your package - including champagne reception and three-course meal with coffee and petits fours. All proceeds will be used to buy state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment for carrying out heart scans; reducing stress for the 200 young people who visit the hospital’s Paediatric Cardiology out-patient department each week.
MANCHESTER TO BLACKPOOL NIGHT RIDE | Intu Trafford Centre | 7-8 October
One of the UK's most iconic cycling events is back for 2017. Participants set off from the Intu Trafford Centre at midnight, taking on a 52-mile Lancashire route and arriving at Blackpool Promenade just in time to watch the sunrise over the sea. What’s more, the famous illuminations will be switched on just for the occasion and participants can even have a peek inside the famous Tower Ballroom. Entry to The British Heart Foundation event costs £35 and includes training, fundraising support, mechanical and medical support - plus route map, water and a medal for all finishers.