The Eden Project is to host a mass Sleepout on November 25, raising vital funds for two South West charities supporting people being forced into homelessness.
The Amber Foundation and St Petrocs say that with an uncertain winter approaching and the continuing impacts of the global pandemic, their work has never been more needed.
Sleepout, the annual bed-down by fundraisers in sleeping bags outside the Eden Biomes, was held virtually last year but is now returning to Eden with up to 100 participants able to take part.
Rebecca Fry, Fundraising Manager with the Amber Foundation, which helps vulnerable young people move away from homelessness and unemployment, said: “The return of Sleepout is very timely and the funds will be an immediate help.
“Young people have been hit hard, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Families and individuals barely getting by before the pandemic have been put under additional strain after over a year of successive lockdowns and uncertainty.”
Rebecca said a recent report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists showed a record number of children and young people are seeking access to NHS mental health services. In just three months, nearly 200,000 young people have been referred to mental health services – almost double pre-pandemic levels.
She added: “Young people continue to bear the brunt of the economic and social impact of the pandemic. Of the annual fall in employment, 63.1% were under 25 years of age, and long-term unemployment continues to grow among this group.
“More young people than ever are facing homelessness due to job losses, deteriorating mental health and/or family breakdown. The potential impact on their immediate welfare and long-term prospects are huge.”
Over the winter of 2020/21 St Petrocs provided emergency accommodation to 40 people, utilising 20 hotels and guesthouses across Cornwall for an aggregate of 937 nights.
Only 25 per cent of their clients were in good health and 45 per cent had mental health problems. Personalised support resulted in 33 people not having to return to rough sleeping.
One St Petrocs client in his sixties, who has multiple health problems but still works six days a week, said after being found accommodation last winter: “I wouldn’t have survived if I had to sleep rough. I’d have froze to death.”
St Petrocs Communication Manager Dave Brown said: “We are really excited to be working again alongside the Amber Foundation and the Eden Project on this year’s Sleepout, which raises awareness of people experiencing homelessness.
“At this time of year, as the weather starts to turn and it becomes colder, it is vital to make sure services are in place to alleviate rough sleeping wherever we find it.”
The Amber Foundation has three residential centres across the South and South West, including Ashley Court in Chawleigh near Crediton, Devon, where it helps vulnerable young people experiencing homelessness from across the South West and beyond. All the young people who come to Amber receive fully tailored support and follow a development programme which has been specially designed to help them move on to a better, brighter future. https://amberweb.org/
St Petrocs mission is to help single people facing homelessness in Cornwall. It does this by providing accommodation, support, advice, training and resettlement services. https://www.stpetrocs.org.uk/
Last year’s virtual Eden Sleepout raised a total of around £10,000 between the two charities, a big boost to the funding of their winter services.
The first Eden Sleepout was held in 2014 and since then the event has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the good causes.
Eden’s Development Director Dan James said: “At Eden we like to think of ourselves as a village hall for some great causes and none is greater than the work done by our fellow charities St Petrocs and Amber Foundation.
“We urge people to sign up to the Sleepout and get as much sponsorship as they can to help homeless people.
“Everyone I have spoken with who has taken part in the past has said it is a night they will never forget.”
A full programme for the November 25 Sleepout at the Eden Project will be announced soon.
To sign up, go to: Eden Sleepout 2021 (active.com)
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