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SeeRound Online April 2017

Sleepout seeks new future after another bumper year

Just some of the school students who took part in 2016’s Sleepout

Just some of the school students who took part in 2016’s Sleepout

With sponsorship and tax claims still coming in, the 23rd Sleepout raised over £58,000, the third year in succession that fundraising to support homeless people has broken the £50,000 barrier and currently just below the 2014 record. Over 23 years, £676,000 has been raised.

2016’s Sleepout may possibly have been the last in its present form. In 2017 and 2018, the extensive works at St Albans Abbey will mean that a large marquee covers a significant portion of the south churchyard where much of the Sleepout takes place and the Sleepout Committee has taken the difficult decision that without that space, it would be unwise to go ahead.

Sleepout began in 1993 under the then Social Responsibility Officer for the diocese, the Revd (now the Ven) Paul Hackwood, now Chief Executive of the Church Urban Fund. The Sleepout Committee has been chaired since 1996 by Cllr Brian Peyton, who took on Sleepout when he was Mayor of St Albans. Under his chairmanship the number of charities and the geographical area they cover has increased. Last year, eleven charities took part from all over St Albans Diocese.

Some of the charities which regularly take part in Sleepout are holding their own Sleepout events this year. Others are keen to find venues where they and a small number of local charities working with homeless people can host their own event. Watch this space!

The need
Crisis, the national charity for homeless people since 1967, says that homelessness is much bigger than the problem of rough sleeping. The Government estimates that 4,134 people slept rough on any night in 2016 a rise of 16% on the previous year. Compare that to the 57,500 statutory homeless households which local authorities have a duty to house and the 275,000 people who approached their local authorities for help with homelessness last year. These figures also exclude the hidden homeless how sleep in hostels or on sofas with friends or family and the problem takes on different proportions.

See www.crisis.org.uk.

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