Compass Bus helped to promote the event

West Sussex charity’s SleepOut highlights rise in sofa-surfing

People of all ages took part in West Sussex charity Turning Tides’ Big Summer SleepOut, joining in from home for the first time. The annual fundraising event was given a new look, due to lockdown, to highlight the difficulties faced by rough sleepers and the growing numbers of hidden homeless people. Helping to inspire people taking part, a client of Turning Tides gave an insightful and moving account of what life is like without a home and the challenges he faced before he found the Worthing-based charity.

Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 10:34 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 12:44 pm

Sophie Moore, youth and fundraising officer, said: “Unlike our traditional SleepOuts, the Big Summer SleepOut was not meant to fully represent the tough challenges that so many rough sleepers battle with day in, day out. But it was a brilliant way to highlight homelessness and reflect on people who are less fortunate. And as it was so very hot, this showed a contrast to winter challenges, demonstrating that summer time equally has its own hardships. Also, by people taking part at home, we have all been able think about our hidden-homeless community, who frequently move between friends or family and sofa-surf or sleep in vehicles. This sadly is a growing number of people – exacerbated by Covid.”

The SleepOut was an important fundraiser for the charity, as Covid-19 and subsequent social distancing measures have significantly curtailed its calendar of events. More than 130 people took part, with all manner of dens constructed, tents decked in lights and even someone sleeping in the bath. The virtual nature of the event meant people could join in from outside the area and these included sleeping on a lounger in Bordeaux and sleeping under the stars in Cumbria. So far £5,150 has been raised. Visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/BigSummerSleepOut2020 to make a donation.

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