Meet Leo, the hammock-based fundraiser
After 13-year-old Leo snored his way into 2021, asleep on the garden hammock he got for Christmas, he saw an opportunity to both sleep and help people!
For an entire year, in all weathers, Leo slept outside in the hammock. In doing so, he was raising money for the free, confidential, 24/7, text messaging support service, Shout 85258. During his 365 nights outside in a hammock, Leo raised more than £8,000 for Shout.
Chief Scout, Bear Grylls was so impressed, he named Leo as one of his Unsung Heroes. We spoke to Leo to find out more.
What’s your story, Leo?
I found it hard moving from primary to secondary school during the pandemic. Luckily, my family was there to support me. It made me think about people going through all these changes who didn't have the support I did. There was a lot going on during the pandemic, with the lockdowns and everything, a lot of people were struggling with their mental health. So, I decided to fundraise for Shout 85258 by sleeping in my new hammock, every night for a year.
What a great idea! What are your favourite memories from your time in the hammock?
The first night outside in the hammock was brilliant, I was so excited about the next 364 nights to come! I also loved the times when my friends and family stayed out with me. Something else I really got into was decorating my hammock for all the different celebrations during the year, such as Halloween and Christmas.
Sleeping outside for a year can’t have been easy. What difficulties did you face?
It wasn’t easy. I had a big problem with the wind and rain keeping me awake. It also got cold, as low as -5C. Thankfully, my parents made sure I had all the right gear. I wore thermals, a onesie and a hat. I had an underblanket and three sleeping bags to keep me warm too! I knew I was always safe; my parents were just moments away if I needed them.
Did you ever feel like giving up?
No, I didn't want to give up because, if I did, I’d have been so disappointed in myself for not completing my challenge. I thought about all the people my challenge will benefit, so that kept me going. I’d recommend it to others; I did find the whole experience a challenge, but it was also lots of fun, too. Every night was different, and it can be done anywhere.
Why did you choose Shout?
I chose Shout because of the way they communicate. Unlike most mental health charities, who use phone calls, Shout is all about texts. I think texting is a much better, and more approachable way of talking, especially to people my age. It’s so important to know help is just a text away.
So, what’s your next challenge?
It was strange for me when I started sleeping inside again – it was just too quiet! I knew straight away that I needed a new focus. I love doing challenges that take me out of my comfort zone and help people by raising money. Next up I’ll be cycling 470 miles to Scotland in the Easter holidays. After that I hope to walk the length of Hadrian's Wall.
Leo, your family are so proud of you, and we think you’re amazing. Good luck with your next set of incredible challenges, too!