An amber weather warning didn’t stop 83 hardy souls from sleeping out on Friday night as they took part in the Big Exeter Sleep-Out.
The event, which took place at St James’ Park, was organised to raise awareness and funds for Julian House. Although the participants were only sleeping out for one night one of the important the goals of the event was to raise awareness of what some people have to do every night. Those taking part were also asked to raise sponsorship to support the charity’s projects in the area. These include – Nightstop Devon, Assertive Homeless Outreach, Criminal Justice, Exeter Bike Workshop and Supported Housing. Another recently launched service is Exeter Safesleep, in conjunction with BCHA, on behalf of Exeter City Council with funding from Government.
Event organiser, Sarah Lakey from Julian House, was delighted with the turn out – “The weather forecast was pretty grim so for 78 people, including 11 children, to leave behind the comfort of their homes was tremendous. Several people did comment that it wouldn’t have felt right allowing the weather to put them off coming. After all homeless people often don’t have any other option but the street.
During the night we had spare blankets and sleeping bags for those whose own kit wasn’t enough for the conditions, which we were happy to provide. For many it was a long night but whilst they were munching their well-earned bacon sandwich the next morning they were quick to acknowledge the powerful lesson the experience had taught them.”
Exeter City Community Trust provided valuable support – both in terms of the venue and other important logistics. Sarah Lakey was also keen to acknowledge their help – “Without them it wouldn’t have happened. The team at ECCT were amazing. Likewise we are indebted to our main event sponsor, BPA Quality, who not only provided financial support but also volunteers and a team who slept out. Rapid Relief Team provided the breakfast – a well earned reward for everyone.”
Sponsorship from the event is still coming in but we hope that the final figure will be in excess of £10,000.