A HOMELESS charity is gearing up for their SleepOut which will see 65 people brave the cold as they spend the night outdoors.

Doorway, based in Chippenham, is hosting the biennial fundraiser on Saturday (January 25) to raise awareness and vital funds as they aim to tackle homelessness in the town.

The last sleepout, when 45 people took part, raised £13,500 which is essential in allowing the charity to run their drop-in centre and other services.

Jo Kitching, Doorway's director, said: "The SleepOut is important for two main reasons.

"Firstly it's a really good source of income for us. Secondly it raises awareness about the importance of homelessness in Chippenham. It points out how hard it is to sleep rough every single night.

"I've been in the post of director since June so haven't taken part before. This year is my first and it is quite a daunting prospect!

"People have been amazing with the fundraising so far and we are hoping to smash last year's total."

The 65 entrants did not have to pay an entry fee, but are encouraged to fundraise.

The SleepOut will take place at St Andrew's Churchyard, Market Place, and will kick off with a service at 8pm. The Ling Mara choir will sing for the sleepers afterwards, and writer Marc Allum will lull them to slumber with his bedtime stories at 10pm.

Greensquare is sending 20 members of staff to take part in the fundraiser and have so far raised £3,500.

Ali Owens, tenancy enforcement officer, is one of the staff taking part.

She said: “Wiltshire, like many areas of the UK, has its issues with homelessness.

"We’re pleased to be supporting Doorway's SleepOut because we want to help local people move out of homelessness for good, as well as raising awareness of the issues homeless people endure on a regular basis.”

To sponsor the event, go to: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/displayEventDetails.action?eventId=33673