Hundreds join St Albans Abbey sleepout
WIND and rain did not deter over 360 people sleeping out in the St Albans Abbey precincts on Friday night to highlight the plight of the homeless. Aged between nine and 65-plus, with 50 per cent under 18, they were sleeping under the stars to raise money
WIND and rain did not deter over 360 people sleeping out in the St Albans Abbey precincts on Friday night to highlight the plight of the homeless.
Aged between nine and 65-plus, with 50 per cent under 18, they were sleeping under the stars to raise money for six homeless charities in Herts and Beds including Open Door and Centre 33 in St Albans.
They were joined by the Mayor of St Albans, Cllr Chris Oxley, and his wife Marion and the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Iqbal Zia and his son Faisal, as well as MP for Hemel Hempstead, Mike Penning.
The Mayor commented: "A trip to Nepal and India earlier this year luckily prepared me and my wife for braving the weather and I also have a terrific Peruvian woollen hat which I was glad to have on the night.
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"I salute the courage of everyone who took part but found it especially encouraging to see how many young people wished to experience what it must be like to have to sleep rough whilst helping to raise money. I also think it is wonderful to have an event where all faiths were able to join together to express their concern for the homeless."
The Deputy Mayor added: "I took part in this event with my son Faisal to get a small insight into what it must be like to be homeless, especially at this time of year when the weather is bad, whilst raising funds for those who need it most. It was good to see participants of a mixture of ages, backgrounds and faiths all sparing a thought for someone who has less than they do, at this festive time of the year which can be especially hard on those with very little."
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He said he was encouraged by the fact that the number of participants had increased this year and hoped even more would take part in 2010
Brian Peyton, chair of Sleepout, said he was optimistic that sponsorship from the event would top last year's figure of �36,000. "That will take the total raised by Sleepout to well over �300,000 since 1994" he pointed out.
He added: "The event was good natured and jolly despite the rain. The dance presentation by Crown Jewels in the Cathedral Crossing before the event made many people think deeply about how tragically easy it is for people to slide from normal life into homelessness and dislocation."
All further donations can be made to Brian Peyton, c/o Holywell Lodge, 41 Holywell Hill, St Albans AL1 1HE.