Sleeping rough for four days for a worthwhile cause is not how a lot of us would choose to raise money and awareness, but for Jack Harding it is something he has been thinking about for a long time.
The Royal Navy chef, who is based in Brackley and Portsmouth, plans to sleep on the streets of Brackley from May 10 to raise money for homeless veterans charity Once, We Were Soldiers.
Around 10 per cent of the homeless population in the UK is made up of former forces personnel with the number of military personnel suffering with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health conditions rising rapidly.
Once, We Were Soldiers provides support for homeless veterans, those that have fallen upon hard times and those that find it difficult to adjust to civilian life.
Mr Harding, 24, said going homeless for four nights was something he had been thinking about doing for the past six months, adding he knew former services personnel who had left the forces and had struggled to adjust.
He said: “It is like you have become institutionalised. You are in for so long and you become acclimatised to being looked after.
“I am hoping to grab people’s attention. I was thinking about sleeping rough for one day and night but I don’t feel that is proving anything. I am not taking food with me and only one set of clothes. I will only have food if people give me food – I am trying to keep it as real as possible.
“I have been talking to the police and the Royal British Legion and getting permission.
“I will be staying by the war memorial as this is for the people that it affects the most.
“A lot of people in Brackley know me anyway and I’ve been plastering what I am doing over social media so, hopefully, people in Brackley will see me sitting at the war memorial, trying to raise awareness.”
Mr Harding has set up a Just Giving page to raise money which can be found at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-harding11.
On his fundraising page, Mr Harding said: “Being a current serving member of the armed forces (Royal Navy) I know many people who have struggled as a result of war and time served, I am hoping to raise money for the men and women who can’t help themselves.”
So far, people have pledged more than £400, around 82 per cent of his target.
The charity, which is based in Leicestershire and operates throughout the Midlands, aims to open one or more transition centres in the UK to provide training and support for armed forces personnel who are about to resettle into civilian life.
To find out more, visit the charity’s website at owwsoldiers.co.uk.