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'Why I slept rough for the homeless'
Kurt Charnock has swapped his comfortable home for the streets to raise money for charity.
The 40-year-old has been posting regular Facebook updates as he makes his way around Brighton and Hove looking for safe places to shelter and something to eat.
He has also been spending time talking to the homeless and the people behind the city’s charities and organisations who do what they can to help.
Mr Charnock said the experience had been an “eye-opener” and had helped him get a better understanding of the challenges people on the streets face.
He said: “I have been open and honest about what I am doing when talking to people.
“I made it clear I was only doing this for a week because I wanted to learn more and help raise awareness.
“It is OK for me. I can go home at the end of the week. This is about the people who do not have that choice.”
Mr Charnock, from Hove, has taken part in several fundraising challenges for charity, many of which have included gruelling long-distance running and triathlons.
He decided to take on this challenge after spotting people sleeping rough while he was out on training runs.
He said: “I just wondered what it was that would lead to a person having no place to go and ending up sleeping rough.
“I felt I would only really get an idea if I had some experience of it myself.”
Mr Charnock, who works in the pharmaceutical industry, spent one night sleeping under a boat on the seafront.
He said coping with the cold has been the most difficult part of rough sleeping.
He said: “However I have learned a lot through talking to people.
People tend to lump the homeless all together but there can be so many different reasons why they have ended up in this position.
“I spoke to a teenager who, I would guess had a problem with substance abuse, while there was another person who has been homeless for four years because he could not cope after his relationship broke down.
“He doesn’t drink and is working on getting his life together so he can get a flat.”
Mr Charnock said he was impressed by the amount of support and help available in the city.
He said: “The support structure is amazing. There are so many organisations, including the council, NHS, charities, churches and other groups who do what they can to help people who are on the street and point them in the right direction and get the help they need.
“This includes helping those who need practical things like a hot meal or blankets to those with drug or drink problem or those trying to find a home or a job.
“I take my hat off to them all. They really do put the effort in to help people come off the streets.”
Mr Charnock will spend his final night at a fundraising sleep out for the homeless in Worthing tonight, where he will talk about his experience.
He said: “The most important thing is that doing something like this is getting people talking and thinking.
“It is very easy to just ignore people on the street and get on with your own lives. This week has taught me so much more.
“I hope it will encourage others to think and maybe make a dona- tion to the charities and groups who do what they can to help.”
Mr Charnock is raising money for Shelter.
To support him, visit his Facebook page, Brighton Triathlon Race Series.
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