Chichester MP joins Stonepillow’s Big Sleepout

Naomi Dale, 20, and Ellie Summers, 23
Naomi Dale, 20, and Ellie Summers, 23

Impressive cardboard shelters have been finalised for those taking part in today’s Big Sleepout.

Among around 70 people sleeping rough for the entire night on the cathedral green is Chichester MP Gillian Keegan.

The Big Sleepout 2017

The Big Sleepout 2017

She said: “All of us are just a step away (from the streets). Bad luck, relationship breakdowns, something else that happens, we’re not that far away from ending up ourselves in that situation.
“The more we can do to help pull people up and help them overcome that the better for everybody, but most particularly the people sleeping out on the streets tonight.
“If you can’t take a walk in somebody’s else’s shoes then you’ve got no chance.”
Mrs Keegan had to dash off to grab a sleeping bag before she judged the best cardboard shelters, made by the people of all ages who will call them home tonight.
The annual Big Sleepout is Stonepillow’s biggest fundraising event, and is said to have raised around £20,000 for the homeless charity so far already.
Stonepillow CEO Geoffrey Willis said: “There’s been a dramatic rise (in rough sleepers). 30 per cent more along the south coast, Chichester and Bognor, (this year).
“Stonepillow provide 86 beds, so we have 86 homeless people we are supporting, and there’ll still be people sleeping in doorways tonight.
“More support is needed, the numbers are on the rise.”
Family members were helping put makeshift shelters together, groups of friends are taking part and members of the Bosham Youth Group are among those braving the elements.
A steel band and face painting have been entertaining the crowds, and hot food from the barbecue will warm the bellies of those taking part later.

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The Big Sleepout 2017

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Gillian Keegan and Geoffrey Willis

Gillian Keegan and Geoffrey Willis

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The Big Sleepout 2017

The Big Sleepout 2017

The Big Sleepout 2017

The Big Sleepout 2017

Green city councillor Sarah Sharp is sleeping out

Green city councillor Sarah Sharp is sleeping out