A GROUP of 30 volunteers braved a night sleeping rough in Woking town centre to help raise awareness the York Road Project (YRP) which helps those experiencing homelessness.
In the third Sleep Out in Woking, with the temperature dropping to 3˚C, plus a wind that chilled them to the bone, the volunteers, who included Woking Mayor Cllr Will Forster and the Mayoress Hannah Thompson, slept on the pavement for 12 hours from 6.30pm on Saturday night to 6.30am the following day. Their efforts have so far been rewarded by the £3,500 sponsorship donations they have already received with high expectations of beating last year’s fundraising total.
A long term supporter of the charity, Cllr Forster said: “I chose the York Road Project as my Mayor’s Charity because it is a scandal that so many rough sleepers are to be found in one of the richest counties in the country. The sleep out will focus Woking’s attention on homelessness, and will raise funds for a good cause.”
Cherisse Dealty, YRP deputy chief executive, said: “I think the fact that we have been the Mayor’s Charity this year probably has helped to increase support for us and this sort of event really helps to keep the charity and the issue of homelessness in the public eye.”
There is some reassurance in Woking, however, where homelessness has actually fallen and Cherisse says this has been helped by the fact that “the York Road Project has a great outreach team here in Woking and we have a really good partnership with the police, Woking Borough Council and the services who all link up to reduce the problem so in fact there are only seven reported people sleeping rough.”
York Road has 71 clients who have come to the charity in the last three months. It has a further 20 in its Move-On accommodation, which helps people who have been homeless on a long-term initiative of up to around two years so that they have the skills to become independent. A total of 63% of its clients are from Woking.
For full story and more pictures, see the 4 October edition of the News & Mail