Vital funds to support the work of homelessness charities Amber Foundation and St Petrocs have been raised by the Virtual Eden Sleep Out.
With some money still to come in, organisers expect the final total to be around £10,000 between the two charities which will be used to help fund their services over winter, their busiest time of the year.
A mass Sleep Out has been held outside the Eden Project’s Biomes over six previous years but due to the need for safe social distancing during the pandemic, a virtual version was arranged for November 19.
A total of 84 participants joined in from their own homes or gardens and connected digitally, engaging with a full programme of entertainment shared online.
Those taking part slept in dens, vehicles, summerhouses, tents and on patios – some with the warmth of a fire and some without. Others slept indoors, on the floor, on sofas and in blanket dens.
Year 11 and sixth form pupils from Trinity School in Teignmouth, Devon, took part in the event from their school hall. They cooked dinner together before bedding down in individual tents or sleeping bags.
Entertainment on the evening included songs from singer-songwriter Suzie Mac, a reading from best-selling author Raynor Winn, plus poems, art and yoga workshops and talks from both charities.
The Amber Foundation has three residential centres across the South and South West, including Ashley Court in Chawleigh near Crediton, Devon, where it helps unemployed homeless young people. https://amberweb.org/
Rebecca Fry, Amber’s Fundraising Manager, said: “Amber is delighted to be involved in the Eden Sleep Out again for 2020. It was sad we couldn’t be together but the Virtual Sleep Out meant people from further afield could get involved.
“We were thrilled to have fundraisers sleeping out in their gardens in London, Surrey, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.
“The money raised will be used to support us over Christmas as we continue to do everything we can to keep the young people in our care safe, ensuring they have not just a place to stay but hope and a real chance for a better, brighter future.”
St Petrocs mission is to help single homeless people in Cornwall.
Communications Manager Dave Brown said: “What a night! I slept in the garden in a tent, but froze before bedding down, sitting outside, keeping up with the virtual event on Facebook.
“So many people took part and raised money. It was fantastic to see everyone’s set-ups, and to know that so many people are behind the aim to end street homelessness.
“Thank you to the Eden Project, The Amber Foundation and every person who supported the event. We can prevent people having to endure the cold and the wet, night after night!”
Lawrence Coen, Head at Trinity School, said: “We’d like to thank everyone involved for organising the virtual Sleep Out. The students found it thought provoking and challenging and I was relieved they were still talking to me the morning after!”
Sleep Out participant Helen Bennett said: “I am humbled to be able to contribute in just a small way, by sleeping out once a year, to support The Amber Foundation and the work they do transforming lives. It has proved to be a very powerful experience and a chance to reflect on the values we cherish and what really matters.”
Eden’s Development Director Dan James said: “Hats off to all those who took part in the Virtual Eden Sleep Out, all those who sponsored them and everyone who provided their time free of charge to provide the brilliant programme of talks and entertainment, all in aid of St Petrocs and Amber Foundation.
“We hope that by November 2021 we will be able to gather again outside the Biomes for the annual Sleep Out and continue to support the great work of the two charities.”