Big Sleep Out raises £25,000 for homeless in Windsor

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

adrianw@baylismedia.co.uk
Big Sleep Out raises £25,000 for homeless in Windsor

The Big Sleep Out in Windsor has raised more than £25,000 to support the homeless – with an event that saw 65 people embracing a night outdoors.

The seventh annual Sleep Out by Windsor Homeless Project was held on Friday at Windsor College, with 35 people attending in person while the rest took part from home.

Last year’s Sleep Out was fully virtual. The years before, it was held at the Alma Road Social Club.

“They have been great but (the club) didn’t quite fit our needs,” said Nick Roberts, project manager at Windsor Homeless Project. “The college has a canteen and a large enough space for entertainment.”

For the earlier part of the evening, there was indoor entertainment for around 80 spectators.

The event was opened by Right Said Fred, with John ‘Ginge’ Dewhurst as the MC. There was live music by local artists Emma Jane Kennedy and Ginni Hogarth.

Eleven local businesses donated raffle prizes, which raised more than £1,000 on the night.

“It was a great night with a good turnout,” said Nick. “We really rely on donations because we don’t get a lot of funding from central or local government.

“Without donations, we’d struggle to keep our doors open. This event is great for raising awareness and getting some more monthly donors – we’ve been going for 12 years, but you never know when that tap might be turned off.”

Among the most memorable moments was a visit by Willem, someone who Windsor Homeless Project supports, who read out his story to the audience.

He moved to the UK from the Netherlands 1998, met the love of his life, Patricia, and was with her for 15 years until she fell seriously ill.

Despite being in the country for so long, Willem found he was not entitled to any benefits and found it ‘impossible’ to keep up with bills. His mental health suffered and he had a nervous break-down.

He came home one day to find the locks on the doors had been changed by Patricia’s daughters, who were taking charge of her care.

With only the clothes he was wearing, Willem was homeless. One day he collapsed in the street and was taken to hospital.

From there he received help from Slough and Windsor homeless charities, which helped turn his life around.

“For us, that cements what we do – it really tells the story,” said Nick. “It’s quite a nervous experience to come talk about that. Hopefully it educates more people to what we do.”

To donate money to the project, see the Big Sleep Out page at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/whpsleepout2021

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