Campaigners highlight the plight of the homeless at King’s Lynn sleep-out

Sleepout for Homeless. Campaigners spending a night sleeping rough on the streets of King's Lynn to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless. Pictured in front North West Norfolk Labour Party secretary Jo Rust with supporters of the campaign.
Sleepout for Homeless. Campaigners spending a night sleeping rough on the streets of King's Lynn to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless. Pictured in front North West Norfolk Labour Party secretary Jo Rust with supporters of the campaign.

Campaigners have spent a night in freezing temperatures on the streets of Lynn to highlight the plight of the homeless.

A group of volunteers camped out with cardboard boxes and sleeping bags outside a shop on Broad Street on Monday to call for improved facilities for those sleeping rough.

North West Norfolk Labour Party secretary Jo Rust, who has called on West Norfolk Council to establish a permanent night shelter, was among those who took part in the sleep-out from 9pm on Monday to 5.30am on Tuesday.

Mrs Rust said: “We weren’t freezing but we had a lot of equipment. We had good quality sleeping bags, blankets, throws and cardboard that meant we weren’t freezing. Even with those, it was not by any means comfortable.

“We managed one night on the street – it was difficult but it was bearable. But had I had to do that night after night, I’m not sure I could cope. My mental health was getting worse.

“It’s hard enough for homeless people any night of the week but during conditions like this it’s even worse.”

Mrs Rust said following the sleep-out, she was pleased to learn that the Purfleet Trust will be open seven nights a week for the next few weeks.

“This isn’t a one-off. People are dying on our streets because the Government and our council aren’t doing enough to alleviate homelessness,” she added.

“I’m not comfortable living in a town that I love where I’m wondering if I will see frozen bodies on the streets.

“But if the council are supporting the Purfleet Trust then I have achieved what I wanted to because it means people won’t be on the streets but in a warm and secure bed.”

Purfleet Trust chief executive Paula Hall said: “What Jo and the other guys did was fantastic, and I applaud them.

“It’s important to make it clear that we already had a service operating with Genesis Housing Association.

“Also we had already planned on a 24/7 service starting Tuesday which coincided with the sleep-out.

“Since the beginning of December we have had a night shelter running from our building on Fridays and Saturdays and we’ve extended that now all through the week.

“What we are looking at is ensuring everybody at this moment is safe – that’s our priority.”

Mrs Hall said the charity and its partners were looking at their long-term strategy for homeless people in the area.

“We are exploring all options looking at homelessness, it’s not just about one provision or another.”