Leeds boy, 13, praised for two years of fundraising by sleeping in tent

image source, Hannah Gray/BBC

image caption, Andy (right), who used to be homeless, said Billy (left) has a “heart of gold” for his fundraising efforts

A teenager who slept at night in a tent for almost two years has been praised by the homeless charity he is raising money for.

Billy, 13, from Pudsey, raised £3,000 for Emmaus Leeds by sleeping in a tent in his garden from June 2022.

The Emmaus community, whose members are struggling to get out of homelessness, said they wanted to thank him.

Andy, 62, who used to be homeless, said: “There should be more people in the world like Billy.”

The teenager said he started sleeping outside to prove a point after his parents complained he wasn’t using a tent he got for his 12th birthday.

After finding it “quite nice”, he said: “I did it again and again and it only went on for over a year.”

He said that’s when he decided to combine this with helping people in need.

“My parents suggested I could raise money and it seemed like a great idea, so I chose the homelessness charity Emmaus because they provide ongoing support.”

image source, Hannah Gray/BBC

image caption, Billy, pictured in 2023, started sleeping outside overnight in his tent in June 2022

Impressed by his fundraising achievements, Emmaus Leeds recently organized a meeting with Andy, 62, who had been helped by the charity.

Andy, who is originally from Brighton, found himself homeless after a divorce.

He said he fell into depression, spent all his money and found himself sleeping in a tent in the South Downs for two years.

“One day I woke up with ice in my sleeping bag, freezing cold, and I told myself it has to stop.”

He said after coming to Leeds and finding the Emmaus community, “I haven’t looked back.”

“If it wasn’t for the charity I think I would have died of hypothermia,” he added.

video subtitling, Billy raised £3,000 for charity by sleeping in a tent every night from June 2022.

After meeting Billy and hearing about his fundraising challenge, Andy said: “There should be more people in the world like Billy.”

Andy gave Billy a tour of the charity’s building in Leeds and they both shared stories of sleeping in a tent in bad weather.

He said the 13-year-old had “a heart of gold” to think of those who are sleeping.

Meanwhile, Billy said it was inspiring to see what his fundraising money went to.

Asked how it felt to raise so much money, Billy said: “Amazing and most of it was from people I don’t know but want to help me.”

Billy said he felt encouraged after meeting Andy and the Emmaus team and was determined to continue sleeping outside for another year to raise more money.

He said: “I just want to be a good person. It makes me feel happy to know that they might not feel so alone when they come here and get support.”

image source, Hannah Gray/BBC

image caption, Andy, 62, said he would have “died of hypothermia” if it hadn’t been for the charity Billy was raising money for.

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