A team of seven housing workers joined about 100 others to brave near freezing temperatures to show solidarity with homeless people.
The ‘rough sleepers’ came together at Christ Church in Northampton on Friday night as part of ‘The Big Sleep Out’, a national initiative to raise awareness of homelessness.
They were looking to raise £5,000 for the Daylight Centre Fellowship in Wellingborough and £25,000 for the Hope Centre in Northampton, two charities which provide support services for those sleeping rough in the county.
Seven colleagues from affordable housing provider Wellingborough Homes joined the night owls to see off the snow and make their own combined £1,400 contribution to the Daylight Centre fund raising effort.
Supported living officer Karen Low said that regular supplies of soup and hot drinks and a fish and chip supper donated by a local chippy, as well as lots of messages of support, helped them get through the night.
She said: “The Hope Centre and Daylight Centre do an amazing job giving hope to local people who have fallen on hard times and need support to rebuild their lives.
“I have referred residents to the foodbank run by the Daylight Centre and I’m aware of the fantastic work they do with people with mental health problems and problems of alcohol and drug addiction.
“I’d never done a sleep out before but we managed to keep each other going and, of course, we knew we were only doing it for one night – sadly, for some less fortunate than ourselves, it’s a way of life.”
Lou Whitehead, apprentice customer service officer at Wellingborough Homes, said she had never done anything like the sleep-out before but had been keen to take part.
She said: “We refer a lot of individuals to the Daylight Centre for help with food parcels, hot meals, shelter and support.
“The centre is heavily reliant on charitable donations and deserves our support so this was one night out of my life where I could give something to raise funds and awareness of a really good cause.”
Sarah Lee, who works at the Daylight Centre and looked after the rough sleepers, had shared night survival tips passed on by some of her homeless clients and had been busy getting in supplies of plastic sheeting and cardboard boxes, as well as advising on clothing, sleeping bags and wearing shoes big enough to take extra pairs of socks.
She said: “I was nervous about the cold, but excited about trying to cope and get something of an insight into what it must be like for rough sleepers.”