Supporters of a cash-strapped Lynn homeless charity got a first-hand glimpse of life on the streets when they braved a night sleeping outside.
A total of 13 people took part in a sponsored sleepout in aid of the Purfleet Trust when it was held at The Walks bandstand in Lynn on Monday night.
Organiser Jessica Barnard said the fundraiser highlighted the plight faced by homeless people – and raised more than £1,800 to help the charity keep going through the winter months, when its services are needed most.
The 20-year-old women’s officer for the North West Norfolk Labour group came up with the idea to support the Purfleet Trust’s emergency appeal for £50,000 of funding.
Government cuts and changes to charity funding had left it at crisis point, with only enough cash to keep its services running until the end of November.
Since the appeal was launched last month, the community has helped raised £20,000 and chief executive Paula Hall is now confident it will achieve its target.
Miss Barnard, who was joined by a further eight supporters on the night, said the sleepout was an “incredible” experience, and made her “more determined than ever” to support the Purfleet Trust in future.
She said: “It was brilliant to meet such inspiring and dedicated people.
“Everyone supported each other throughout the evening and I think we all gained a lot from the experience.”
She said they were lucky the bandstand provided some shelter, but the cold weather could really be felt in the early hours.
She added: “I met a couple of homeless individuals who regularly use the facilities at Purfleet. They told me that most evenings they walk around to stay warm, and that shop doorways weren’t safe at night because you are so exposed to passers by.
“I was lucky enough to be in a lit area with a large group, yet I was still very alert throughout the night and somewhat nervous, particularly when you would jump awake to hear someone shouting not too far away. I cannot imagine doing it alone, night after night.”
She thanked everyone who took part in the sleepout, and all those who have donated.
Miss Barnard, of West Lynn, is also backing a new Big Issue magazine campaign to house homeless people in Britain’s empty properties – and is urging local people to lend their support.