Sleep Out funds help ease winter chill for South West homeless people
Vital funds raised for two charities through the Eden Project Sleep Out in November are easing the mid-winter plight of homeless people across the region.
The fifth annual event in aid of St Petroc’s Society and the Amber Foundation - where 100 sponsored volunteers bedded down on hard ground for one night in front of the Biomes - has resulted in around £17,000 in donations to the two charities.
The cash boost is enabling Cornwall-based St Petroc’s to open its cold weather night shelter in central Truro, taking in up to 18 rough sleepers every night from mid-December to mid-February.
The Amber Foundation has three residential centres across the South and South West, including Ashley Court in Chawleigh near Crediton in Devon, where it helps unemployed homeless young people.
Rebecca Fry, Amber’s South West Fundraising Manager, said that the 2018 Sleep Out was the most successful so far in raising money for the charity.
She said: “This money is a huge boost for us. Put it this way, it was enough to run Ashley Court over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Providing a festive and supportive home for young people with nowhere else to go – that’s the kind of difference it makes.”
Rebecca said that support for the charity could best be seen in the positive impact it is having on young lives such as that of Josh, who left Ashley Court earlier this month after getting his life back together over the previous nine months. He now has his own accommodation and has started a job with a general builder.
Josh said: “My life was massively chaotic. I spent years living at 1000 miles an hour – taking drugs, drinking and getting into trouble.
“Amber has given me stability and a chance to sort out my mental health issues. I’ve had time to learn more about myself and developed more empathy and understanding of others. Amber has saved me. I’d probably be dead if it wasn’t for this place.”
St Petroc’s mission is to provide accommodation, support, advice, training and resettlement services to single homeless people in Cornwall.
The charity does not receive any core funding for its Truro emergency night shelter, where people in dire need share one large room.
St Petroc’s see a rise in demand during the weeks after Christmas when the weather is often at its coldest. Last winter the shelter helped 91 people. So far this winter it has been available to all homeless people who have needed it.
Communications manager Dave Brown said that money from the Sleep Out was vital to the service.
He said: “This is the pressure period at the moment for people who find themselves without a roof. There is a perpetual flow of people finding themselves on the streets. We are trying to beat the tide.”
He added that St Petroc’s is helping an increasing number of homeless people with mental health issues and other complex needs.
As well as the emergency shelter in Truro and a newly-opened shelter in Penzance, St Petroc’s has 85 bed spaces in properties across Cornwall.
The charity works with homeless people to try to find them more permanent accommodation. Last year of the 91 people who accessed the winter service, 60 were found homes.
Jess Rawlings, who project manages Sleep Out for the Eden Project, said: “It is really good to hear about the direct benefits resulting from money raised at the event. Thanks once more to all those who took part to help support the great work of our two Sleep Out partner charities.”
Sleep Out is part of a nationwide event organised by the End Youth Homelessness campaign (EYH), a national partnership of grassroots charities and companies.
This year’s Sleep Out will take place at Thursday November 7, 2019 at the Eden Project.
For more information on St Petroc’s, go to https://stpetrocs.org.uk/
To read more of Josh’s story and find out more about the Amber Foundation go to: https://amberweb.org/what-we-do-2/case-studies.