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Friday, November 16, 2018 - 10:45

One hundred fundraisers braved a cold, drizzly night outside the Eden Project Biomes to raise much-needed money for two regional homelessness charities.

Bedding down on solid ground in paper sleeping bags, they experienced first-hand a little of the discomfort which people sleeping rough endure every night.

The fifth annual Sleep Out to be held at Eden once again directly supported St Petroc’s Society and the Amber Foundation.

Leaders of both charities praised the participants and said that the funds would make a vital difference to homeless people as winter approaches and in the year ahead.

The event on Thursday night coincided with the annual rough sleeper count around Cornwall, which gives a snapshot of the number of people spending the night without a roof over their heads.

This year’s figure is now still being collated.  Last year it was 68 and the previous year, 99.

St Petroc’s mission is to provide accommodation, support, advice, training and resettlement services to single homeless people in Cornwall - www.stpetrocs.org.uk.

Through the society, the money raised at Sleep Out goes directly towards funding the charity’s cold weather night shelter in Truro, due to open for two months from December 17, part of its Let’s End Street Homeless in Cornwall campaign.

St Petroc’s fundraising manager Dave Brown said today: “This event not only has the direct benefit of funding the shelter, it also highlights the issue of people who have to sleep rough.

“This is an incalculable benefit not only to people who are homeless but also the people who help them. Without events like this there would be more people on the streets.

“The money raised doesn’t come with any conditions. It is piled into cold weather provision and running services with no core funding. Our shelter helped 91 people last year.   We don’t know how many people will use the shelter this year but we do know it will once again make a massive difference to many lives.”

The Amber Foundation has three residential centres across the South and South West, including one in Chawleigh near Crediton in Devon, and helps unemployed homeless people aged 17-30 with a safe place and all the support and opportunities they need to transform their lives. 

Last year the foundation helped 215 people move on to bright independent futures – a job, training or university place and most importantly a safe, secure home of their own - amberweb.org.

For every young person who is helped by Amber, the Foundation has to raise an additional £5,000 to support them.

Participants in Sleep Out heard powerful stories of two young men whose lives have improved greatly with the help of Amber and from the mother of a son whose life was in crisis until he was picked up by the charity.

Rebecca Fry, South West Fundraising Manager for the Amber Foundation, said: “This is my first Sleep Out and I have been blown away by it – really humbled by the support.   People I’ve spoken to have a hunger to understand the root causes of homelessness and really listen to what people affected by it have to say.”

Rebecca said that this year’s Sleep Out was the best so far in terms of the number of people who were raising money for the foundation and the amount of money raised.

She added:  “I want to thank everyone who supported us and the Eden Project for once again including us in this wonderful event.”

A number of companies had teams of people raising money on the night.  Nine from Watson Marlow of Falmouth have raised at least £2,300, to be split between the two charities.  Individuals aimed to raise a minimum of £200 each and the company topped up their efforts with a donation.

Before bedding down, those taking part heard a series of talks, giving them many insights into the complex issues of homelessness and rough sleeping.

Raynor Winn, author of the The Salt Path, a best-selling book about becoming homeless and walking the South West coastline with her husband Moth, gave a compelling account of how their lives changed dramatically after they lost their house in Wales.

Also on the programme were pizza and ‘disco soup’ cookery workshops led by the Eden chef team and entertainment from talented Cornwall-based singers Suzie Mac and Daisy Clark.  

Sleep Out participants also had the chance to warm up for their night on the ground with a skating session on the ice rink which was kept open especially for the evening.

Jess Rawlings, who project manages Sleep Out for the Eden Project, said: “It is great for us to be able to host an event that has such a direct benefit for homeless people in the South West who are helped by these two wonderful charities.

“The night had a heartwarming atmosphere - it felt special to be surrounded by so many people focused on making a positive impact.”

Sleep Out is part of a nationwide event organised by the End Youth Homelessness campaign (EYH), a national partnership of grassroots charities and companies.

Next year’s Sleep Out will take place at Thursday November 7, 2019 at the Eden Project.