Rough sleepers’ £7k for shelter

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Rough sleepers have raised more than £7,500 for a Crawley homeless shelter.

More than 40 people including a group from St Wilfrid’s School took part in the Big Sleep Out in Queens Square in aid of Crawley Open House on Thursday (October 15).

The charity’s chairman Chris Oxlade, who took part in the event, which ran from 7pm to 7am, said more than £7,500 had been raised.

He said: “It was a great night for raising the profile of homelessness and raising some money as well.

“It’s a tough thing to do but we all get to go back to a warm bed and a place to live but last year Crawley Open House turned away the best part of 2,000 people.

“Anyone can be homeless in a blink of an eye, there’s not a certain stereotype that the homeless are like at all.”

Speaking of his experience, he said: “When you’re lying there - and most homeless people don’t sleep in groups - if somebody is walking past or somebody is shouting in the town centre you do wake up with a jump because there’s that sort of fear factor, let alone the cold and little things like going to the toilet - all those things you take for granted.

“When you get up it’s quite a sobering experience because you kind of get a glimpse of what it’s like to sleep on the streets because some people just totally ignore you like you’re not there, others give you a look, others give you a smile.”

The shelter in Stephenson Way, Three Bridges, has 24 beds.

Mr Oxlade said the funds raised would go towards the shelter’s help for the homeless and its community outreach in ‘times of financial uncertainty’.

The previous Sleep Out in 2012 raised some £3,000 and had around 30 participants.

Mr Oxlade said the event could be repeated in 2016 following this year’s success.