Sunday, 14 April 2024
Sunday, 14 April 2024

Churchwarden gives up bed to support people without shelter around the world

A churchwarden from East Sussex is giving up his bed during Lent to raise funds for the international disaster relief charity ShelterBox.

Richard Hunt will be braving the winter weather by camping outside his church one night a week in support of the charity’s Tent for Lent campaign.    

The campaign encourages people to pledge to give something up, take on a challenge or host a fundraising event during Lent, donating the money saved or raised to help fund ShelterBox projects around the world. The charity specialises in emergency shelters, supporting people who have been uprooted from their homes because of conflict or disaster.  

Richard said: 

“My first night was on Ash Wednesday and it rained the whole night. I managed to keep warm, however, after waking up I had trouble getting back to sleep because of a leaking gutter on the church roof. When I eventually did get some sleep, I was woken up by the 5am train blowing its horn at Forge Farm crossing!   

“Fortunately, my second night under canvas was a dry night with no rain at all but I did forget my pillow so had to borrow a kneeler from the church. I was sleeping relatively well thinking ‘This will surely be a better night than the first’, until I was woken by some barking dogs being taken out on a walk!   

“But I opened the tent in the morning to be greeted by Balthasar, the vicar’s cat. I must train him to brew me a cup of tea!”  

This is the second time Richard has given up his bed as part of the Tent for Lent campaign, having raised more than £4,000 in 2022.  

This month marks the second anniversary of the latest phase of the war in Ukraine, which drove generous donations when Richard first took part in the fundraiser.  

Richard continued:

“I hope that my involvement in Tent for Lent will help me raise awareness for the dire situations people face in countries around the world when they have been hit with disaster or thrown into conflict.  

“ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and essential items for people who have been displaced and left without basic life-sustaining items. It’s a brilliant charity that works across the world to give something as simple as shelter, but something that could be the difference between life and death.  

“After my night in the tent, I move it to a grass verge opposite the local primary school as I hope to spark the interest of parents and their children on the school run. Maybe we’ll have the next generation of ShelterBox supporters by the end of Lent!”  

Support has started pouring in for Richard’s challenge with donations through his church, St. Thomas the Apostle in Groombridge, and to his JustGiving page.

Community Fundraising Officer at ShelterBox, John Stanbury, said:

“It’s always so wonderful to hear the creative and brave ideas our supporters have when we launch Tent for Lent each year.   

“Challenges like the one Richard is undertaking resonate with us, as a tent is one of the types of emergency shelter we provide in our responses around the world. Although simple, this type of shelter can be the difference between life and death for people who have been left with very little.”  

The Cornwall-based charity, founded in 2000, has helped over 2.5 million people in around 100 countries. ShelterBox has launched an urgent appeal to help its response to the situation in Gaza where it’s working with a partner to get essential and lifesaving aid to people affected. The charity is also working across the world in places such as Somalia, Yemen, and Ethiopia, supporting people who have been displaced by disaster or conflict.  

People wishing to find out more about Tent for Lent can visit: shelterbox.org. 

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