‘Leap Sleep’ on streets to highlight homelessness

Volunteers will be “ditching technology” and sleeping on the streets of Congleton for the night to raise awareness of homelessness 
The “Leap Sleep” is being organised by The Mallon Tree, which is in the process of applying for charitable status.
Volunteers plan to highlight the plight of those sleeping rough on the night of Saturday, 29th February.
Matthew Oliver-Eaton, a founder of the Mallon Tree, told the Chronicle: “Because of the fact that it’s a leap year we thought the timing could reinforce what we’re trying to say, which is we’re planning to do this as a leap year event, once every four years, but there are people living that every day.
“There are some horrible statistics about homelessness, the fact that even though we’ve developed since the 80s and the 90s, homelessness is still increasing for some reason, when it shouldn’t be.”
He stressed that they did not want to “pressure” people on the issue, but rather to raise awareness and allow people to “know we’re there”.
His partner and Mallon Tree co-founder, Adam Oliver-Eaton, said that while they are looking for volunteers to join them on the night, it cannot be any more than 20 people as it would be classed as a “public gathering”.
Matthew said: “We want people to say hello. Because if people who know us can stop and say hello to us on the street at night, then why can’t people have that interaction with homeless people. It’s about changing the mentality.”
He added: “It’s on a Saturday night, so I imagine there will be quite a few people who know us out on the drink.”
The Chronicle reported on the Mallon Tree’s launch in December and the organisation has grown rapidly since, including partnering with established service providers.
Adam, Matthew and fellow co-founder, Lucy Mallon, have been working alongside Plus Dane Housing by taking referrals to their befriending service.
The service aims to give vulnerable people in Congleton a “listening ear” and to help them in whichever way they can or signpost them to services more suitable.
The trio have also provided school uniforms to families struggling with costs and worked with Congleton’s New Life Church’s food bank to provide emergency food parcels.
The Mallon Tree has also provided female sanitary products for a local school for free after finding out the school was charging students.
Emergency appeals have also been launched on the Mallon Tree’s social media feed.
 This included a successful appeal a week before Christmas for a cooker to replace one that had broken down for an individual who approached the team. 
Adam said: “I don’t think people realise the word poverty encompasses so much, including homelessness, but it’s not just that. There are so many aspects to it.”
Matthew added: “We’ve almost become like a practical version of Citizens Advice, if that makes sense. Kind of just a one-stop-shop for people and we’ll help however we can. It’s working.”
To access any of the services provided by the Mallon Tree or to find out more, phone 01260 281241 or visit its office at Chapel House, Chapel Street, Congleton, which is open 10am to 5pm every weekday except Thursday when it is open 12pm to 8pm.