Sleepout for homeless at Norwich Cathedral
On December 1, more than 40 people took part in an Advent Sleepout in the Cloisters of Norwich Cathedral, in aid of the Church Urban Fund and have raised over £8,000.
The Advent Sleepout Challenge is run by Church Urban Fund and has nationally raised over £23,000 from groups and churches who have taken up the challenge of sleeping rough for a night. The purpose of the sleepout was to raise awareness of those who regularly have to sleep rough in this country, those who lack proper housing and all who are trapped by poverty.
The event at Norwich Cathedral followed the dedication of the Cathedral's outdoor crib, a reminder that Mary and Joseph had nowhere better than a stable for the birth of their child. Those sleeping in the cloisters included the Dean Very Revd Jane Hedges, the Bishop of Thetford Rt Revd Alan Winton, Revd Canon Andrew Bryant, other Cathedral staff, several vicars and other supporters.
Carrie Sant from local Christian group City Saints gathered together a team of five people who had all been homeless - two of whom are currently living in accommodation part funded by the Church Urban Fund - to cook breakfast for all those who slept out. Through taking donations for the breakfast they raised an extra £97 for people facing homelessness.
The City Saints team felt empowered that they were able to give something back by providing breakfast the morning after and offering words of encouragement and thanks as the rough-sleepers laid out cardboard padding and climbed into their sleeping bags.
One night sleeping rough does not in any way compare to the daily precarious experience of a truly homeless person, yet those taking part did so to stand alongside them and show they care.
Many of those who took part found that sleep was fitful and disturbed. Matthew Hutton, curate of St Stephen’s Church said, “There was plenty of time to reflect on the homeless and their plight, some of whom I have got to know a bit, and especially those rough sleepers who have lost their lives over the past year.”
Another participant was Alice who said, “I think that the only thing the cloister crew had in common with the homeless was the fact that we were mildly uncomfortable and chilly. We were in a clean, safe environment. We even had access to toilets. Imagine sleeping with one eye open, being constantly concerned for your safety, needing the loo or wanting something hot to drink or some safe, friendly company.”
The Bishop of Thetford Alan Winton said, “I'm very mindful of how much I have while others struggle with real poverty and hardship and I really value the work the Church Urban Fund does to work to transform lives."
Revd James Stewart said, "Living in the centre of this fine city of Norwich I am reminded most days that homelessness and poverty are real issues for us here. Just as in this holy season of Advent we remember the coming of God's kingdom in glory so the work of Church Urban Fund brings light in a sometimes gloomy world."
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