VOLUNTEER rough sleepers from far and wide bedded down in a church car park on Friday night and raised more than £15,000 for homelessness charity Framework.
More than 80 people took part in part in the annual Mansfield Big Snore at St Mark’s Church, in Nottingham Road – the largest number in the event’s nine year history.
A hardy collection of adults and children braved near freezing conditions with just the protection of flimsy cardboard shelters, plastic sheeting, sleeping bags and warm clothing.
Every penny raised – as much as £18,000 when sponsorship from Western Power Distribution is factored in – will be used to help rough sleepers in the Mansfield area get their lives back on track and move towards independent living.
Pam Bishop, of St Mark’s Church, said: “I am always very moved by the number and range people who come to sleep out. They are cheerful and friendly, genuinely glad to have the chance to do something for Framework and very appreciative of anything that anyone does to make that experience possible. I am also moved by those who want to help and who seem to enjoy being part of it all.”
Lucy Wakefield (12) of Sutton, was taking part in her first sponsored sleep out. She said: “I know that there are quite a lot of homeless people around here and I wanted to do something to help. It’s terrible that people have to sleep on the streets and I am doing this to raise awareness of them. The event is great but it was also very cold. I can’t think of how bad it must b to actually sleep on the streets.”
Dea Marriott, of Newlands Road, Forest Town, was taking part with five of her friends. She added: “This all came about because of a conversation we had at Christmas. Everybody has their troubles in life but we realised that, when you compare us to other people, we are so fortunate. We all know that if life ever got really bad for us we would have a support network to fall back on – either our friends or our family. But we know that many people who are sleeping rough just don’t have that option to fall back on. We heard about this event and we all agreed that it was a really worthy cause and a good opportunity for us to help.”
Katherine Bradford (15) of the St Lawrence Church Youth Group, was taking part in her fourth Big Snore. She added: “Sleeping rough is horrible and nobody should have to do it for real. Everybody needs a place to live and Framework helps people to find somewhere. Small changes can make big differences and we know that this event really does make a difference to people’s lives.”
Andy Wainman, of Queen’s Road, Beeston, said: “This is my seventh sponsored sleep-out for Framework and my second time here in Mansfield. I didn’t bring a very good box with me last year and I’ve clearly not learned my lesson for this year! But the thing to remember is that, however cold it is, this is just for one night and that it is my choice to be here.
“The Mansfield Big Snore is a really friendly event and I know that it makes a real difference. If it was not held then more people would be sleeping rough.”
Former rough sleeper Wayne, who was still sleeping rough at Sutton Reservoir at the time of last year’s Mansfield Big Snore, has been helped by Framework to move into his own flat. After meeting some of the participants on the night he said: “It’s nice to see so many people here helping people who are in the same situation I was in. The Mansfield Big Snore is a brilliant event because it really does help people like me.”
Framework Operations Director Michael Leng said: “Once again the support for this event has been really strong and I would like to thank everybody who went to the trouble of sleeping out. The money they have raised will change (and maybe even save) lives in the months to come. By this time next year several of the people who are currently sleeping rough in the Mansfield area will have been helped by Framework to find homes of their own and reintegrate with the community. Without the money raised by the Mansfield Big Snore much of this work simply would not be possible.”