Braving the cold

2016-05-03 09:37
Devon Saunders, a YouTuber, slept on the street to raise funds for street people.

Devon Saunders, a YouTuber, slept on the street to raise funds for street people. (Nicole Mccain)

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What do 7 000 homeless people and the star of a popular YouTube channel have in common?

They’ve all felt the sting of sleeping in a cold winter night’s air.
YouTuber Devdondidit, Devon Saunders, spent the weekend sleeping on a rooftop in Plumstead to raise awareness of the challenges homeless people face in winter.
His #WeDidIt Winter Campaign saw Saunders living on a rooftop last week from Thursday to Sunday, braving the colder Cape Town weather, to collect 15 000 items of warm clothing or blankets.

On just the first night, Saunders received donations of 7 500 blankets.
“It’s quite an eye opener to sleep on the street. This is what people experience every day. These people live with the wind, rain and street noise on a day to day basis,” he says.
Saunders was joined by a handful of street people who kept him company during the night.
“You appreciate what you have when you listen to them. These people have nothing, but are still grateful. They don’t even have a cup of coffee to keep them warm.”
By partnering with Faith, Hope and Charity – a non-profit company – Saunders hopes to tap into the 55 000 strong audience that watches his content across various social media platforms on a weekly basis. The #WeDidIt campaign video was launched on Tuesday last week, with a strong call to action for Capetonians to join in social media activism and support the homeless through the campaign.

Saunders started out doing videos, charitable campaigns, pranks and questionnaires in 2015. After the success of the 2015 Winter Campaign, which was called the Warm Blanket Challenge, Devon has decided to make the challenge bigger to see if he can assist in a more substantial way.
Says Saunders: “I’ve been fortunate that some of my videos reach well over 100 000 views and I thought I could use my platform to not only bring a bit of laughter, but also for the greater good to bring warmth to our world.”

A recently released study by the City of Cape Town found there were more than 7000 homeless people in Cape Town. Of these, 4800 were living on the streets while the rest were in or assumed to be living in shelters.
The study, led by the directorate’s researcher, Lynn Hendricks, found that out of 1700 homeless interviewees, females only made up 20 percent of those living on the streets. Those on the streets were more likely to be male, between the ages of 25 and 45 years, native to Cape Town, and to have been living on the streets for more than a year because of a variety of reasons such as losing their house, unemployment, or a lack of family support.
For more information on the #WeDidIt Winter Campaign, watch the campaign video at Devdondidit


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