Virtual homeless sleepout raises tens of thousands of pounds for St Albans charities

Homeless charities have benefited from a virtual sleepout in St Albans. Picture: Hannah Somerville.

Homeless charities have benefited from a virtual sleepout in St Albans. Picture: Hannah Somerville. - Credit: Archant

A virtual sleepout event has raised more than £30,000 for local homeless charities.

The Sleepout at Home event on Friday, November 20 saw five charities come together to facilitate a reimagined homeless sleepout during the second pandemic lockdown.

Not only did the event raise funds but also raised awareness of the many issues that are faced by homeless people.

The charities usually run the St Albans Sleepout event at Oaklands College but this year, the lockdown meant ‘sleeping out’ at home on cardboard, in a tent, an outside bench or on floors or sofas.

A Zoom event during the evening connected the sleepers together and created a community feel, where videos of support were shared from the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire Henry Holland-Hibbert, St Albans Mayor Cllr Janet Smith and MP Daisy Cooper.

Information about the positive way in which the charities have helped people during this difficult year, a quiz and inspirational live music from local artists Elie Rees, Julian Mount and The Maida Vales completed the line-up.

In total over 240 people took part and have so far raised over £30,000 for Centre 33, Emmaus, Herts Young Homeless, Open Door and The Living Room.

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Sleepout participant Maeva Cowley said: “Still buzzing and feeling elated from being part of such an amazing event. Thank you to the organisers for making it fun but also reminding us of the importance of why we’re doing it.”

Fundraising communications officer at Herts Young Homeless Caroline Neill said: “This has been an extremely difficult year for all of the charities, as their income from community and events fundraising has been severely reduced due to the pandemic, at a time when demand for their services is growing due to the financial and wellbeing pressures on many of their services users.

“We are extremely grateful that the local community has risen to the challenge and we would like to say a huge thank you to our event sponsor, Morgan Sindall Property Services, the sleepers themselves as well as the family, friends and businesses who have sponsored them.”