Housing

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton: World’s Big Sleep Out will showcase homeless stories

The Big Issue ambassador told The Guardian and the Evening Standard her remarkable story ahead of the global homelessness event in December

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton will be rubbing shoulders with Helen Mirren, other celebs and thousands of people braving the December cold in Trafalgar Square for the World’s Big Sleep Out.

The Big Issue ambassador has been speaking about the Social Bite event to The Guardian and the Evening Standard in the last couple of days and she insists it is a huge opportunity to show the people behind the homeless stories.

The global homelessness fundraiser – which is coming to 50 cities around the globe – is an incredible way to round off a remarkable year for former Big Issue vendor Sabrina.

We shared her remarkable story in April of how she went from being homeless in her native Wales to becoming one of the UK’s top firefighters, in charge of the response to the Finsbury Park and Westminster Bridge terror attacks.

Since then, Sabrina’s whirlwind year has seen her meet vendors at the House of Lords, attend the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff, speak on the Downs Festival stage and appear on Desert Island Discs.

She told Evening Standard that her story will be on her mind when she attends the World’s Big Sleep Out – an annual event which aims to help the homeless people of the globe and to end homelessness for good.

“I was homeless from the age of 15 for two and a half years and it wasn’t until I was 18 that I was able to sort myself out,” said Sabrina.

“People would look at me sat in the road and it was almost as if I was a ghost and people would pass me like I wasn’t there. It really impacts your sense of self-esteem and self-worth.

“People write you off when you don’t have hope. The Sleep Out brings homeless stories to people and helps to see the person behind them.”

Sabrina also spoke to The Guardian about her remarkable rise to her new role as West Sussex’s chief fire officer.

She said: “Your circumstances don’t have to define you: I want to challenge the perception of what a firefighter might look like. It’s about being calm under pressure, being decisive and working well as part of a team.”

The Big Issue Foundation, our charitable arm, will be holding their own World’s Big Sleep Out event on the same December 7 night as the Trafalgar Square fundraiser. To head to the Kia Oval with other readers, register here.

Image: Louise Haywood-Schiefer for The Big Issue

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