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Take part in the Norwich Sleep Out to help city’s homeless

PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 June 2016 | UPDATED: 07:55 21 June 2016

Chris Elliott, marketing and fundraising manager for the Benjamin Foundation tries out the sleeping bag for the charitiy's Sleepout campaign with the rest of the team. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Chris Elliott, marketing and fundraising manager for the Benjamin Foundation tries out the sleeping bag for the charitiy's Sleepout campaign with the rest of the team. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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The Norwich Evening News today gives its full backing to an initiative aiming to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing the city.

What to expect on the night

Last year’s event saw 70 people spend a night sleeping rough in a city car park.

And despite the unseasonably mild weather, it still proved to be a testing challenge for those involved.

Senior account handler Oliver Whitham, 28, was one of three people from Hugh J Boswell who took part.

He said: “It was probably the worse night sleep I have ever had in my life.

“I did eventually settle down at 1am, but then it started to rain and everything got a bit soggy, which was not great.

“I was freezing on a mild night so it beggars belief how it must be on a cold night.”

Despite an uncomfortable night, Mr Whitham, who lives in Norwich, said he was glad to have taken part.

He added: “This was just one night.

“They [the homeless] have to do it for however many nights. You just can’t begin to put yourself in their shoes.

“That is partly why I wanted to do the event in the first place. People think they know what it is like, but they have no idea.”

Mr Whitham advised people to bring waterproofs if they are taking part in November.

“And don’t expect to sleep well,” he added.

We have teamed up with youth homelessness charity the Benjamin Foundation to encourage 150 people to take part in what will be its largest fundraising event to date.

The 2016 Norwich Sleep Out will challenge people to spend one night sleeping rough in order to highlight the issue of homelessness. It also aims to raise vital funds for the charity’s work with vulnerable young adults across the county.

Chris Elliot, marketing and fundraising manager, said: “This is our biggest fundraising event of the year by a long way. The strength of it is that it’s not only a big fundraiser, but it also gives people a flavour of the issues we tackle.

“Our sleep-out is not like being homeless, but it does make you appreciate the challenges that come with sleeping outside during winter.”

Hugh J Boswell staff will be doing a charity sleep out. Left to right, Richard High, Olly Whitham, Graeme Wooden, George Batley, Anna Murray, Rachele Kelsall and Paul Utting.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYHugh J Boswell staff will be doing a charity sleep out. Left to right, Richard High, Olly Whitham, Graeme Wooden, George Batley, Anna Murray, Rachele Kelsall and Paul Utting. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

David Powles, editor of the Evening News, said: “The Benjamin Foundation fulfils a vital role in our city and we are delighted to be supporting it in this way.”

Some 70 people braved the elements last year for the charity’s first official sleep-out.

The event raised £17,000 for the organisation, some of which has since been used to fund training and social activities for the young people it supports.

Mr Elliott said: “I’m confident we will be able to reach our target of 150 people because we have lots of people who did it last year saying they will do it again and they are keen to get more people involved with them.”

What you will need

Sleeping rough is no easy challenge - even if it is just for one night.

Organisers have recommended the following essentials to bring during the evening:

A sleeping bag

Plenty of layers of warm and waterproof clothing including a hat and gloves

Cardboard to put down under your sleeping bag – it helps keep out the cold and is a little softer than the car park.

Snacks and drinks to keep you going throughout the night.

To sign up to the event people will need to pay £25 and are asked to register online.

Those taking part are required to raise a minimum of £100.

Rachele Kelsall, head of community development at Hugh J Boswell, is just one of many who have already agreed to take part this November.

Along with her co-workers, Oliver Whitham, 28, and Shane Ford, 26, she helped raise £1,000 for the charity during last year’s challenge.

The 47-year-old said: “I think essentially the work that the charity does is so important. And at a time when the public sector budget is being squeezed, more provision will need to be provided by charities such as the Benjamin Foundation.”

This year’s sleep out takes place in the car park of Marsh, on Queens Road in Norwich.

It starts on Friday, November 11 from 7pm through to 7am the following day. Food will be available during the evening, and people will be able to make themselves hot drinks.

Mr Elliott said: “If you have a passion for helping young adults who have had a really tough start in life, and you want to do something that gives you a flavour of what being homeless might be like, while raising money for a charity that helps people, then this is the event for you.”

People over 18 can sign up from today at www.benjaminfoundation.co.uk/sleep-out

If you are taking part, call reporter Luke Powell on 01603 77 2684 and we will publicise your efforts.


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