With social distancing measures in place, Stonepillow changed their annual 'Big Sleep Out' event this year so that people could still join in the fun and help raise funds for people who are homeless.

A number of staff and councillors from across Chichester District Council supported the event on 16 May by finding creative new places to sleep at home. Councillor Alan Sutton (Cabinet Member for Housing Communications, Licensing and Events) slept in his summer house, Linda Grange (Divisional Manager for Housing) slept in the bath, Councillor Adrian Moss slept in a wheelbarrow, and Councillor Sarah Sharp slept in her cargo trike. Councillor Sarah Lishman even slept on the top floor of a double decker bus!

Councillor Janet Duncton, Councillor Gareth Evans, Councillor Martyn Bell, and Steve Hill also took part in the event.

Councillor Alan Sutton, Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events, says: "Taking part in the 'Big Little Sleep Out at Home' was a fantastic experience and I'm very proud of all my colleagues who took part. Together we raised over £4,000 for Stonepillow and increased awareness of homelessness.

"We're so lucky to have such incredible charities in our area working hard to support our communities, particularly during the current crisis. Our officers are working with Stonepillow every day by supporting rough sleepers in emergency accommodation, helping them access services, delivering food, and helping them move on to more settled accommodation. The council provides an annual grant towards their work and earlier in the year we also provided additional funding to enable them to open their Chichester Hub seven days a week.

"Sleeping in a wheelbarrow, bath, or in my case, the floor of my summer house, isn't the comfortable rest we're used to, but that's the important message of this event, which aims to raise awareness of the difficulties and challenges faced by those who are homeless or rough sleeping. Making sure that individuals in this position are able to access a safe and secure bed for the night is vital, and donations received will all help Stonepillow to continue their invaluable work.

"I was especially touched by the last donation I received on the night from a nine year old boy in my neighbourhood. He knew I was taking part in the event and wanted to help out so he knocked on my door and gave me his £6 pocket money as a donation. It was a lovely gesture and really highlights the kindness of our district and everyone who has supported this cause."

Date of release: 18 May 2020

Reference: 3877