Fundraisers will brave the elements to raise cash for Devizes’s homeless

This Is Wiltshire: An earlier St Mary’s Church sleepout, supported by Mayor Pete Smith, centre, in March 2011 An earlier St Mary’s Church sleepout, supported by Mayor Pete Smith, centre, in March 2011

ABOUT a dozen people are preparing to brave freezing temperatures by sleeping out to raise money for Devizes Opendoor.

The charity is holding its sleepout for the fifth year tomorrow night at St Mary’s Church in New Park Street.

Eddie Sims, chairman of Devizes Opendoor, will be doing the sleep out for the third time. He said: “Last year it was very cold, it was close to freezing. The church is a stone building so it’s quite cold and there is no heating inside. I tend to wear six layers of clothes and sleep in a sleeping bag.”

Those doing the sleepout will be able to tuck into soup, rolls and hot drinks and there will be a mini service including a few prayers before bedding down for the night.

Last year 14 people took part and raised £2,500 for Opendoor’s work at its drop in centre at St John’s Parish Rooms, Long Street. Mr Sims said often people don’t realise there is a homeless problem in Devizes.

“People are surprised there are homeless people as they see Devizes as a very sleepy market town. At the moment our numbers are going up, with 20 people a session. They are homeless, vulnerable and either struggling to keep a roof over their head or sofa surfers. We need £15,000 a year to run our service,” he said.

Devizes Opendoor run three drop in sessions a week, offering cooked meals, as well as providing users with access to health care services and counselling. It also has a washing machine and shower facilities enabling users to have a wash or get their clothes cleaned.

Anyone interested in taking part can email or call Mr Sims on 07968 983660. Sleepers must be over 14 and raise a minimum of £25.


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