Milton Keynes homeless charity volunteer enters final days of six-month rough sleeping fundraiser

A Milton Keynes homeless charity volunteer is in her final days of a six-month rough sleepout, raising thousands of pounds in the process.

Friday, 11th September 2020, 12:51 pm
Updated Friday, 11th September 2020, 12:54 pm

Sixty-year-old Ruth Legh-Smith has been sleeping outside with no tent since the end of March in a bid to raise money for Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes (WNSMK).

Since she started, Ruth has endured a global pandemic, heatwaves, storms and many other challenges, all while sleeping in a bedding kit she made herself from charity shop blankets, car windscreen insulators and tarpaulin.

Ruth said she embarked on the challenge in memory of her recently deceased husband Richard, whom she was married to for 15 years.

She said: “I am choosing to support the WNSMK because, in many ways, volunteering for them after Richard’s death helped me to carry on, and I have seen how they help people in great need.

"The way in which I have decided to support the charity is a fitting tribute to Richard and how we lived life together. Richard and I led what you might call an unconventional life, mostly on boats, never feeling 'at home' in a house.”

Ruth has so far, as of Wednesday (September 11), raised more than £2,000 for the WSNMK, and she is hoping people will donate and show support in her final days - her last night of rough sleeping will be on Wednesday, September 16.

Sara Millington, from WSNMK, said: “We applaud Ruth for taking on such a momentous challenge. It has been a joy to follow her progress and provide encouragement along the way.

Ruth Legh-Smith

"We rely heavily on donations and fundraising to provide emergency accommodation and move-on support for rough sleepers, so the money raised will go directly to help the homeless and vulnerable in the winter months ahead.”

Ruth said her plans to travel and see family and friends around the country to sleep out in their gardens were thwarted by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

She has been mainly sleeping in the garden of family members, and more recently at Emmaus Village Carlton (EVC), in Bedford, a supportive community for people who find themselves homeless for a variety of reasons.

Ruth is currently enjoying living and working at EVC, and is said to be looking positively towards the future.

Ruth has been sleeping rough since the end of March

Angela Foll, from EVC, said: “Ruth has settled well into Emmaus life and is a caring and respected member of the community. We have great admiration for the dedication she has shown by helping homeless people in this way. We have been happy to support her in any way we can.

"We hope Ruth’s determination will inspire people to contribute to her fundraising and help raise much needed funds for the WNSMK, a very worthwhile cause.”

For more information and to donate, visit

Ruth with her late husband Richard onboard their boat
Ruth's DIY sleeping kit