Friday, November 20, 2015 - 14:15

Torrential rain, plunging temperatures and a blazing log fire greeted around 100 fund-raisers at the Eden Project last night at the second annual Sleep Out event in aid of homelessness charities.

A range of people including animation students from Falmouth University, bankers, broadcasters Tina Bessell and Neil Caddy from Pirate FM and clients and staff from St Petroc’s Society and the Amber Foundation charities plus Eden team members joined in the big event.

All bedded down in paper sleeping bags on  thin sheets of cardboard under an awning outside the famous Biomes to raise money for St Petroc’s and Amber. Five times as many people signed up to take part this year compared with last.

Sleep Out is a nationwide event organised by the End Youth Homelessness (EYH) campaign, a national partnership of grassroots charities and companies that provides vital support to homeless young people. The national campaign aims to raise more than £500,000 for homelessness charities.

On the night there was  a live performance from local band Clay. Food workshops were led by Tony Trenerry, head chef at Eden, and Sanjay Kumar, head chef at the Headland Hotel, Newquay and founder of the School of Cornish Sardines.

To help ensure everyone had the chance of a good night’s sleep, The Bishop of St Germans, The Rt Reverend Chris Goldsmith, read a spiritually-soothing bedtime story.

The event enjoyed big support from Pirate FM over several weeks. After sleeping out, breakfast show duo Neil and Tina rose very early to present their programme.

Partners in the event hailed it an amazing success after it raised many thousands of pounds for the homelessness charities though donations to individuals and helped publicise their invaluable work.

Organiser Jo Gale of the Eden Project said: “This event has created an infectious spirit of togetherness. As a charity ourselves, Eden is proud to be able to help two others who do such amazing work for homeless people.

“To have five times as many people signing up this year compared with our first Sleep Out event is a heart-warming result and puts Sleep Out at Eden firmly on our calendar.”

Corinna Langford, Community Manager at St Petroc’s, said: “Sleep Out 2015 has been so successful in engaging so many people. It has raised crucial funds and just as importantly it has raised awareness of the issue of homelessness.

“The partnership with Eden, the Amber Foundation and Pirate FM has increased the profile and grabbed the imagination of a lot of people.  This is a well-established event now. For our clients who attended, sharing their stories and sharing this experience, feeling part of something, not feeling excluded, has been invaluable.”

Paul Rosam, CEO of the Amber Foundation, said: “The Eden Project did us proud last night.  The event is a wonderful partnership of the three charities and the evening was all the more special for it.

“For Amber, it was about raising much-needed funds but more than that it was about broadcasting the harsh reality of homelessness which is once again on the increase in the UK.”

This has been a reality personally experienced by Amber residents Shane and Ben, both from Devon, who took part in the Sleep Out.

As he listened to Clay’s songs, Shane said:  “It was an amazing opportunity – I’ve never done anything like this before.”

For Ben, who wants to be a horticulturist, it was an inspirational night.  He said:  “My dream is to work at Eden one day.”

Speaking for herself and Neil, Tina Bessell of Pirate FM said:  “Sleep Out has given us first-hand experience of the plight of homeless people, especially young adults.  Meeting the support workers from St Petroc’s and the Amber Foundation and their clients has been a privilege and an eye-opener.”

Tina added: “Sleeping out has been uncomfortable and we are all tired but it is nothing compared with those who find themselves homeless, night after night. Pirate FM is proud to have been at the Eden Project, involved in the big Sleep Out to help change perceptions of homeless people and raise funds for very worthy charities.”

People can still support St Petroc’s and the Amber Foundation by donating directly to them via the website links  and or by texting COLD02 and the amount they would like to donate (for example £5) to 70070.