MUM Alison Bull and daughter Georgina snuggled up for warmth last night in temperatures down to 5 degrees Centigrade as they slept outside.

The pair, from Belvedere Road, Melksham, were among 45 people who took part in Alabaré BIG Sleep event at Wiltshire Council’s County Hall.

Wiltshire homeless charity Alabaré hosted the event for the first time in Trowbridge from 8pm last night until 8am this morning.

Georgina, 18, said: "I wanted to try it because it is such a good cause.

"I think I can give up one night being in the warm. I don't have to do it every night as some people do."

Those who took part had each raised £100 or more for the charity, which helps the homeless.

They included Wiltshire councillors Alison Bucknell and Ian Blair-Pilling, and high-ranking council officers Alistair Cunningham and Terence Herbert.

Trowbridge mayor Cllr David Cavill turned up to wish them well, as temperatures plummeted as darkness came on.

Cllr Cavill said: "I think this is a fantastic charity and I am extraordinarily proud of the young people in Trowbridge who are giving up their time and support to help Alabaré.

"It is extraordinary to see their dedication and the understanding of the charity's work over many years to help those people who have been forced to sleep rough."

The BIG Sleep is Alabaré’s flagship event in raising awareness and funds to help the homeless across North Wiltshire.

Working in partnership with Wiltshire Council, Alabaré asked participants to brave the cold for one night at the County Hall.

Those taking part were able to make a difference for the most vulnerable and marginalised in Trowbridge and further across Wiltshire.

Georgina and her mum, Alison, 49, had turned up dressed in three layers of clothing in the hope of staying warm.

"I am wearing three layers of leggings, three layers of tops and three pairs of socks," said Miss Bull, who works for the Aster housing association in Devizes.

"I have brought my mobile phone and my headphones with me to listen to a podcast just in case I can't sleep."

The council had put barriers across the front of County Hall and sheets of plastic on the concrete paving to cushion against the cold.

Those taking part came along armed with sheets of cardboard, sleeping bags and, in some cases, camping mats and collapsible camping beds.

Rebecca Mullen, Alabaré's fundraising and development officer, said: "It has taken 13 years for Wiltshire Council to wish to take part, which is great because it shows how well we are working with the council.

"We have young people here and we are finding more young people are really motivated to do something about homelessness."

Among those at the event was Brian Tubb, 50, a former rough sleeper who has been helped by Alabaré and now lives at Unity House in Chippenham.

He came along to explain to those taking part what it's like to be a rough sleeper and the issues they face.

Mr Tubb said: "I was sleeping rough for about four years after falling out with my family in 2016.

"I spent about three months on the street but most of the time I was sleeping in my small Astra van.

"I am 6ft tall so it was not the most comfortable of things to do. I was working nights and it was not easy to find somewhere to sleep during the daytime."

Mr Tubb made contact with Alabaré in the cold winter of 2018 when there was snow and ice and was given a bed, hot showers and food at Unity House.

He now lives on Universal Credit benefits and is training up with the hope of helping Alabaré to help homeless people.

"My goal now is to give something back and to help homeless people to move on in their lives."

A private Sleep Out was also held at Trowbridge Town Hall on Friday evening led by the Trowbridge Youth Parliament.

Eighteen schools from across Trowbridge each sent four pupils to sleep inside the Town Hall to raise awareness of homelessness and funds to be split between Alabaré and Julian House.

Laura Knight, Alabaré’s Community Engagement Officer, said: “With figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that an estimated 726 homeless people died in England and Wales last year, it is evident that more needs to be done to support those facing this desperate situation.

“The BIG Sleep is a vital fundraiser in helping Alabaré to support even more homeless and vulnerable people off of the streets of Wiltshire.”

Richard Clewer, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Our aim is to work with our partners to help people avoid homelessness.

“We are making real progress in tackling homelessness in Wiltshire, but we can never be complacent – we always need to do more.

“We’re happy to be working with Alabaré to help promote The Big Sleep, it’s a great initiative that helps vulnerable people in Wiltshire.”

Alabaré’s homes, drop-in centres and training facilities provide training and support to homeless and vulnerable people across Wiltshire.

Last year, Alabaré provided more than 1,000 hot meals and emergency shelter to 110 rough sleepers during severe weather.

Alabaré says that homelessness in Britain has risen by 165 per cent since 2010 and one in five young people have sofa-surfed in the past year.

The charity estimates that 103,000 young people in Britain are made homeless every year. Up to 24,000 are sleeping rough on the street or on public transport.

Those taking part were able opt to spend the night in the atrium at the County Hall or, for the braver fundraisers, outside.

Everyone who signed-up had pledged to raise a minimum of £100 to help support Alabaré’s work in caring for the most vulnerable in their local community.

The charity’s most recent count found a total of 21 rough sleepers in Wiltshire.

A spokesman said: “As a charity, we provide a total of 30 bed spaces across Chippenham and Trowbridge to those who are either homeless or at risk of becoming so.

“Rough sleepers are also able to access support through our drop-in facility which is open three days a week at our Unity House service in Chippenham."