Staff and graduates from the University of Northampton will be braving the elements to raise much-needed funds for Northampton’s homeless.
The Hope Centre, based in Campbell Street, deals with more than 100 homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Northampton every day.
To help it raise much-needed funds, a group of University staff members and graduates will be taking part in one of the charity’s most popular annual fundraisers, the Big SleepOut, which sees people sleep rough for the night.
This year’s event takes place at Northampton Town Football Club’s Sixfields stadium on Friday 26 January, and will see Senior Lecturers Kardi Somerfield and Sharon Smith and Accommodation Services Assistant, Claire Henshaw, sleeping rough.
They will be joined by Claire’s husband Nick and their friend Toby Mortaro, who are both Northampton graduates.
Claire said: “This will be Nick and I’s fourth year completing this challenge, and it is never easy but totally worth it.
“The Hope Centre helps people who need a hand up or a hand out – and the numbers of people who need help just keeps growing. The work they do is amazing and I have so much admiration for all of the volunteers, staff and fundraisers who brace the cold with me. Without them all, I’d hate to think what position the people they help would be in.”
Kardi, pictured right, said: “Firstly, doing the Big Sleepout does not pretend to be anything like the experience of being homeless. The physical and emotional consequences of the situations that lead to rough sleeping are horrendous so it’s not the same at all. However I’m no Bear Grylls so sleeping outside in January is a fairly unpleasant prospect which means it is a great fundraising opportunity.
“Last year the atmosphere was brilliant – lots of people from different backgrounds sharing stories.
“For example I spent quite a long time talking to a father and son both of whom were ex-Forces. They wanted to support The Hope Centre because they knew people from the Armed Forces that had ended up struggling when they left the Services.
“Top tip: A tarpaulin. I only grabbed a plastic sheet about an hour before I did the Sleepout last year and it would have been really horrible if I hadn’t because it rained in the early hours.
“I’m doing it again this year because last week a friend of mine who is one of the ‘hidden homeless’ – i.e. not rough sleeping but sleeping on people’s sofas – was helped by the Hope Centre after trying for months to get back on his feet. I’m so grateful that they are there.”
Sharon said: “I’m taking part in the Big Sleep Out to raise awareness of the homeless within my local community. In my role as magistrate in Northampton, I see on a regular basis how homelessness affects people’s experience of the criminal justice system, health services and their later life chances.
“There is still a stigma and lack of understanding of why people become homeless. I’m pleased to have this opportunity to support the good work of the Hope Centre Charity.”
You can still register to take part in the Big Sleep Out by contacting Hope Centre community fundraiser Tanya Haji-Miller by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can’t join Kardi, Sharon and Claire on the night, you can sponsor them via their JustGiving pages: