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Monday, September 28, 2020 - 14:00

Fundraisers are being urged to sleep out in their own garden or even on the living room floor to help homelessness charities in the South West.

For the last six years the Eden Project near St Austell has hosted an annual Sleep Out outside the Biomes and the events have raised thousands of pounds for two charities, St Petrocs and the Amber Foundation.  

Government guidance due to the pandemic means that the mass Sleep Out cannot take place at Eden this year.  Instead, people are being invited to join in remotely on the night, November 19, 2020.

Organisers hope that because there does not need to be a limit on numbers, more money than ever will be raised at a time when the work of the charities will provide a lifeline to hundreds of homeless people. 

Participants in the Virtual Eden Sleep Out will be able enjoy content online to entertain them and inspire their fund-raising.

Among the contributors on the night will be Mimi Beard, who became homeless aged 16 before turning her life around, and singer-songwriter Suzie Mac.

The Amber Foundation has three residential centres across the South and South West, including Ashley Court in Chawleigh near Crediton, Devon, where it helps unemployed homeless young people. 

Becky Fry, Amber’s Fundraising Manager, said: “Amber have been delighted to be involved in the Eden Project Sleep Out over the years. This year, given the challenging circumstances around the pandemic, we are even more grateful that Eden are supporting this virtual version – even though sadly we can’t all come together in person.

“The coronavirus pandemic, the resultant restrictions and the impact it is having on the economy means that Amber’s work has never been more needed. Troubled young people are now struggling more than ever to escape what can be a never-ending cycle of disadvantage. 

“At the beginning of lockdown we quickly put in place measures meaning that we could remain open giving young people a safe place to self-isolate while also working on their own personal challenges. As it gets colder it is so important that we stay open so we can continue this vital work. 

“Fundraising, as ever, remains central to Amber’s continued operation and has been hit hard by the pandemic. This event provides a wonderful opportunity for people to come together virtually and raise as much money as possible to support those most hard hit.”

St Petrocs mission is to help single homeless people in Cornwall. Communications Manager Dave Brown said: “During lockdown all our services remained fully open and operational with extended opening hours to ensure our clients could maintain social distancing. We made sure that every person sleeping rough was able to access food, showers, PPE and accommodation. We were able to assist 146 people into accommodation during that time. 

“We have seen an increase in people needing our support during lockdown. The causes of homelessness are all related to Covid-19 and we are seeing some people coming to us who would not have been made homeless otherwise. 

“As restrictions on our daily lives continues and the winter approaches, it is really important that we stay open and that we are able to continue to assist those who need our help. 

“The help of the Cornish community, including events such as the Eden Sleep Out, enables us to continue this important work to support people who would otherwise be homeless. We wish to thank Eden for their continued support of this work at this challenging time.”

Dan James, Eden Project Development Director, said that due to social distancing Eden and its fellow charities had to think creatively about how to deliver this year’s Sleep Out and all were determined to raise as much money as possible through the remote event. 

He said: “As we head towards an uncertain winter, the work of St Petrocs and Amber in alleviating the plight of homeless people has never been more needed.   

“Eden continues to be proud to support them. We hope that many more people will sign up for the seventh annual Sleep Out and join us in spirit by bedding down wherever they can safely do so. They can be sure that whatever money they raise will make a difference.”   

To join in, participants pay a registration fee of £25 and then raise as much as they can for one of the two charities. 

To sign up for this year’s Sleep Out, go to: