READING’S leading homelessness prevention charity, Launchpad, didn’t want COVID-19 and social distancing to put a stop to the much-loved annual event, the Big Sleep Out. Which is why this year, the charity is hosting the event virtually and asking people to brave the outdoors on World Homeless Day, Saturday 10 October, to raise vital funds – in your garden!
The Big Sleep Out at home will see participants take on the challenge of swapping a comfortable bed for a sleeping bag in their garden, or a friend or family member’s garden, where they will join Team Launchpad for a packed programme via Facebook Live from 6pm. The virtual event will include activities such as den building and cooking with the contents of a food bank parcel; hearing from Launchpad clients who have experienced homelessness, and listening to a bedtime story from a special guest before bedding down for the night under the stars.
Now in its 15th year, the Big Sleep Out has raised £250,000 to date to help prevent homelessness in Reading and in 2020, Launchpad is hoping the Big Sleep Out at home will raise a further £25,000 so the charity can continue their vital work ensuring vulnerable people don’t lose their home. Participants are being asked to raise £250 and have been provided with downloadable digital resources in the Big Sleep Out at home guide on the charity’s website – which includes printable posters, social media images and instructions on how to set up a JustGiving page.
Kate Martin, Fundraising Manager at Launchpad, said:
“We simply couldn’t let the pandemic ruin Launchpad’s Big Sleep Out – not only as it’s one of the most popular dates in our calendar, but also because it’s our biggest fundraising events of the year and enables us to continue our work preventing homelessness. Helping people in Reading avoid rough sleeping is more important now than ever before as we see the devastating impact the pandemic and subsequent lockdown has had on our community, with many at risk of becoming homeless due to postponed eviction, furlough, redundancy or illness. Our teams have already seen an increase in enquiries from people in need and this is likely to continue.
“By taking part in the Big Sleep Out at home from the safety of a garden, or an office or business park, and by live-streaming the event – you will feel part of a community-wide event and get a brief insight into some of the things you might experience if you were sleeping rough, such as cold temperatures, an uncomfortable bed and limited sleep. And with every pound you raise for Launchpad, you are ensuring people at risk of homelessness in Reading don’t have to face those conditions night-after-night.”
The Big Sleep Out at home raises money to support Launchpad’s work providing vital information and support for individuals, couples and families who are at risk of losing their home. This includes those who are victims of domestic abuse, army veterans, and people leaving care or prison with nowhere to go; those who struggle with numeracy and literacy and can’t access the benefits system to pay rent; and people battling issues such as addiction, debt management and poor mental health. The charity provides tailored support plans for periods of three to six months and works with clients to tackle whatever is holding them back or having an impact on their housing situation, so they can achieve long-term stability and independence.
Booking is now open for Big Sleep Out at home and tickets are priced at £15 per person or £40 for a group of four. Find out more about Big Sleep Out at home and book your place by visiting: www.launchpadreading.org.uk/bigsleepout
The Big Sleep Out at home guide includes everything participants need to begin fundraising, as well as some key information about the event itself, such as a kit list: www.launchpadreading.org.uk/bigsleepoutguide