This year's annual Big Sleep Out took place at Franklin's Gardens.

Hundreds brave the chill for Northampton Hope Centre's Big Sleep Out

Pictures taken by Kirsty Edmonds show the volume of people who turned out on Friday to support Northampton's homeless community.

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 2:00 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 2:14 pm

Now in its twelfth year, Northampton's annual Big Sleep Out raises thousands of pounds every year for the Hope Centre in Campbell Street as well teaching those who take part about the realities of living on the streets.

The Hope Centre moved into Oasis House in 2012 and supports 120 homeless people every day, providing them with hot meals, showers, clothes and delivers educational classes and training.

More than 200 people constructed their bed for the night on Friday (January 31) at Franklin's Gardens using only cardboard boxes and plastic sheeting, as many street homeless people would do, but fundraisers were not allowed to bring a tent.

Nigel Garner from Opus Energy won the award for the best pop-up shelter on the evening, which was presented to him by the deputy mayor, Brian Sargeant, for Nigel's design, and warmth.

Fundraising manager at Northampton Hope Centre, Louise Danielczuk, said: "It was a really lovely atmosphere we had an awful lot of different people there who had not done it before.

"A lot of the feedback we had was that the night made people who took part think they had weeks to prepare for sleeping outside, but when you become homeless you don't have the time to prepare and you don't have friends to give you big sleeping bags.

"Although people acknowledged it was not a true experience of homelessness it gave them an insight into sleeping rough. It was a real eye-opener of an event."

Last year temperatures dipped to minus four degrees whereas this year the weather was slightly warmer with the lowest temperature recorded being eight degrees.

Bosses hope funds raised on the evening will pay to keep the day centre open for a further three months, as they continue to help the homeless community over the winter for 78 hours a week.

More than 60 people across Northampton town are estimated to be sleeping rough at any one time, the Hope Centre said.

Core costs to keep the centre open for rent, heat, light, insurance, staffing and food can typically be about £35,000 each month.

Last month The Hope Centre signed a license agreement with social housing operator Midland Heart to continue occupying parts Oasis House after they were served an eviction notice in October 2018.

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