Council officers sleep out

Big Sleep out raises funds and awareness of homelessness

Three Northumberland County Council employees  joined over 60 regional business leaders to sleep out in sub zero temperatures and raise awareness of the plight of the homeless.

The brave volunteers swapped their comfy beds for sleeping bags and - 7 degrees temperatures,  to spend the night in the Alnwick Garden to mark World Homeless Day.

The aim of the event was to raise much-needed funds for charity and highlight the challenges of homelessness and poverty in the region.

The volunteers were Chief Fire Officer with Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service Paul Hedley and county council Homelessness Officers Susan McBrearty and Lisa Goodridge.

Paul Hedley was raising money to support NE ex-military homeless into housing and work. Speaking after the event he said: 

“It was  desperately cold night. We just had to endure it for one night, knowing that the next night we’d be back in the comfort and warmth of our own homes.  For the many who sleep rough this is their daily grim existence as they have to experience discomfort, hunger and extreme cold, day in day out, night in night out.

“ Having a decent roof over your head is a fundamental right. No one should be forced to live on the streets. Unfortunately it is the most vulnerable, the young, those suffering from substance misuse or domestic violence who are most at risk

Susan McBrearty, homelessness officer at Northumberland County Council said:

“ I have to be honest I didn’t get much sleep. Despite my sleeping bag and layers of clothing the temperatures plummeted through the night and it was very cold and frosty. In the depths of winter it must be unbearable for those sleeping rough and living on the streets.”

“ Homelessness is a country-wide issue but something local authorities, key partners and local charities are  working together on to try and eradicate. The event helped to keep this serious issue in the spotlight.”

Lisa Goodridge, a homelessness officer at Northumberland County Council also joined in the sleep out.  She said: “ Northumberland County Council has a rough sleeping outreach team that locate and engage with homeless people to establish the issues and help source them emergency accommodation and put them in touch with the relevant support services.
“  We talked to the participants about our role and also about the work the council and other local support services do to try and intervene and prevent  those at risk of becoming homeless. ”

The event was organised by The Alnwick Garden Trust and the CEO Sleepout, a national charity set up to fight homelessness and poverty. Sleepout events are held across the UK by enlisting company directors who are willing to give up just one night of comfort to raise funds for those who find themselves without a roof over their head.  
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