By Kelly Wickham
On SATURDAY around 77 people braved sleeping out in cardboard shelters for one night to raise vital funds for Stonepillow.
The charity’s annual fundraising event took place in the grounds of Chichester Cathedral and was sponsored by Kiwi Recruitment.
The evening has raised over £10,000 so far and this total is expected to increase with sponsorship still to come in.
Laura Bulbeck, Stonepillow PR and events manager, said:
“We would like to thank all the participants for their fundraising efforts, which will make a huge difference to the lives of homeless and vulnerable people and ensure that we can continue to support them.
“We are so grateful to Kiwi Recruitment for sponsoring the Big Sleep Out and making it all possible.”
The Big Sleep Out does not aim to replicate homelessness but does give people a small insight into some of the harsh realities of rough sleeping. Before participants settled into their shelters for the night, one of Stonepillow’s clients bravely shared their experience of what it is like to be homeless and how they have turned their life around with support from the charity.
James Clark, from Chichester, took part with his son, ten-year-old Joseph, and his friend, David Mason, also ten.
“I am really excited about tonight. We have decorated our shelter and called it the cave.
“We have got a porch where we can leave our bags and then a bit to sleep in.”
“Our challenge is going to be to try and get to sleep! It makes me feel sad how some people can be treated differently and the government doesn’t help them enough.”
Dad James said he thought it was a great event to take part in. He said: “They have just started walking home from school on their own through town and they have noticed the homeless.
“They have been buying things in Greggs and places to give to the homeless. I was quite surprised to know how alert they are to it all.”
On Wednesday, West Sussex County Council announced it had been awarded more than £340,000 to help rough sleepers get vital access to health services.
The grant of £345,529 from the Department of Health and Social Care was awarded to the county council following a successful application to Public Health England (PHE).
The money is part of the £1.9 million which has been allocated by PHE to be used on projects that will improve access to health services for people with mental ill health and substance misuse problems who are currently, or at risk of returning to, sleeping rough.
The initiative will be co-ordinated by Stonepillow, on behalf of a number of homelessness support organisations. The project will start next February and run for 12 months.
The funding will help to improve the links between hospitals and homeless services and reduce the number of hospital admissions of homeless people in West Sussex. The Hospital Admissions Referral Pathway (HARP) model will provide a nurse and outreach worker, who will be located across various homelessness services, to ensure that rough sleepers do not fall through the primary healthcare net.
Mayor of Chichester, Cllr Richard Plowman said:
“Homelessness is unfortunately increasing all over the country and in Chichester we are particularly proud of the way the charities and churches help these people in need.
“The sleep out at the cathedral in cardboard boxes, often with younger generation experiencing for the first time what sleeping rough is like, raises awareness.
“A very valuable monetary contribution is made to these charities who have seen their grants from the local authorities much reduced when the need is growing.”
Tom Carron, local team leader from Rapid Relief Team, said:
“This is the fourth year we have supported this event. It is really important to support the homeless people in the area and Stonepillow are a great charity to work with.
“We are glad to do our bit to help them raise money for their services.
“It’s really important that the whole community get behind this and an event like this has great community spirit for all ages.”
Stonepillow would like to say a huge thank you to Rapid Relief Team Bognor Regis, COOK Chichester, South Downs Water and Costa, West Street, Chichester, for providing food and drink for the event and to all the local businesses that donated cardboard and raffle prizes.
Visit: stonepillow.org.uk for more information.