During Advent, members of church staff from Holy Trinity, Knaphill and St Saviour’s, Brookwood raised £2,200 when they braved a cold December’s night under the stars for the second year in a row.
On 11 December the team at Holy Trinity and St Saviour’s – Neil, Jo, Ben, Caroline and Julie – toasted marshmallows, shared mulled wine with passers-by and sang carols in their festive onesies outside Holy Trinity church before spending the night in a self-built cardboard shelter. Their activities helped them smash last year’s total and this year’s target of £2,000 and raise £2,200 for the Advent Sleepout Challenge, an initiative by the Church Urban Fund to raise funds and vital awareness for homeless people and those trapped in poverty.
Parish administrator, Caroline Bowen, said: “Our night sleeping out was a humbling experience. We were very fortunate to be supported so well by our friends and family, both financially and by coming to visit us to share in mulled wine and carol singing, and also being able to wake up the next day knowing that that night we’d be back in our own beds - all of which those who truly are sleeping rough do not have.
“We hope that by raising awareness and raising money we have helped a little bit those for which homelessness is a reality.”
Nationally, last year’s inaugural Sleepout Challenge raised £93,450 as 75 churches and communities across the country – including Busbridge & Hambledon and Knaphill in our diocese – responded to the rise in homelessness. In 2015 it was estimated that as many as 3,569 people in England were sleeping rough on any one night. This is a 30% increase on 2014 and double the figure for 2010.