Tombstones sleepout in Chippenham raises £6k for charity

This Is Wiltshire: Settling down at St Andrew’s are Katie and Sarah Brunskill of Great Somerford Settling down at St Andrew’s are Katie and Sarah Brunskill of Great Somerford

More than 20 fundraisers braved the cold to sleep under the stars in Chippenham in aid of homeless charity Doorway.

The sponsored sleepout took place in St Andrew’s churchyard from 7pm to 7am last Friday, raising money and awareness for the Chippenham-based charity.

Doorway’s chief executive Lisa Lewis, who took part in the sleepout, said: “With the hail on Saturday and rain on Sunday we were lucky with the weather. It didn’t start raining until 7am when everybody was getting ready to go home.

“Because of all the pledges we’re expecting to raise £6,000 and we hope that we’ll get even more than that.

“We are extremely grateful for all the support we have had from the community.

“What I was most surprised about was that a girl came along who hadn’t heard of us before and she just saw the poster in Chippenham and decided to come along and now she’s going to apply to be a volunteer."

This year the charity marks its tenth anniversary and this year’s sleepout was the centre’s fourth fundraiser of this kind.

“It was a good atmosphere. Just before bed we had a bedtime story in the church and then it got quiet and everyone settled in among the gravestones. One person even had their box tight up against one of the tombstones.

“One girl said in the morning when everyone was getting up out of their boxes it was like something from a zombie film.

Mrs Lewis said: “I’ve always said that we can’t show people what it’s like to sleep rough because we can all get up and go to our homes but it shows that there is a problem even in such a rural part of the country. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”

Among those taking part was 51-year-old Andrew Carnegie, from Seagry, who spent six months sleeping rough in London in the late 1980s.

He said: “It was incredibly well run and very thought provoking. You could tell that if you went to Doorway for help that is the kind of service you would get.

“Doorway is a fantastic charity and the money is spent locally. You couldn’t ask for anything more.

“When I got home I was very tired and I slept for half the day but I could eat and have a hot shower afterwards so you can imagine that if you were doing that every day you would be wrecked.”

For more information about Doorway on (01249) 445385.

 

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