Group's big sleep-out will raise vital funding

A group of hardy Rotarians and supporters are preparing to sleep rough with the aim of raising vital funds to help the homeless and those in hostels move into their own homes.

Val Jones, Chris Young from Cannock Rotary, Jodie Toovey from Cannock College, Gwyn Williams and Stuart Perren, both from the Rotary club of Stafford
Val Jones, Chris Young from Cannock Rotary, Jodie Toovey from Cannock College, Gwyn Williams and Stuart Perren, both from the Rotary club of Stafford

Members of Cannock and Stafford Rotary clubs are planning to spend a night under the stars in cardboard boxes to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by homeless people and to raise funds to help people afford vital items.

People are being encouraged to take part in the Sleep Out to Kit Out event, which is being staged on April 22 in the grounds of Cannock College, or to sponsor participants.

Harold Bould, aged 70, from Hednesford and president of the Cannock Rotary Club, said: "We had hoped to stage the event last year but had to defer it because of Covid restrictions.

"We are hoping people will come forward to take part or be willing to sponsor those who will be sleeping out.

"Any donation will be welcome towards providing £20 to buy a kettle or toaster, £50 to buy a microwave or money towards buying a bed or cooker."

Chris Young, chairman of the organising group, said: “This is a new event for Cannock Rotary Club, building on a successful event run by The Rotary Club of Stafford in 2019.

"We are very grateful to South Staffordshire College for their tremendous support, without which this event would not have been possible.

"Our aim is to support the Stafford and Cannock League of Hospital Friends, who provide supported housing for people with enduring mental illness.

"One of the barriers their clients have to successfully moving out of supported housing and into a home of their own, is being able to afford both a deposit and purchasing furniture and electrical items.

"We hope that by setting up a fund we can remove a barrier that will help someone move into a home of their own.

"Mental illness affects people from all walks of life, and we felt that holding a sponsored Sleep Out would be a good way of highlighting the issues faced by homeless people."

Martin Thornley, chief executive of the Stafford and Cannock League of Hospital Friends said: "We are so grateful for the support from Rotary, which will enable us to extend our support to the local community of Stafford and Cannock.

"The money raised from the Sleep Out to Kit Out event will help local supported housing organisations by providing a fund from which their clients can apply for a grant to purchase items to enable them to move on to a home of their own."

Claire Boliver, chief executive principal of South Staffordshire College, said: “We hope that the event will bring together people from across the two boroughs to highlight the issue of homelessness and raise money to help people become independent.”

Those taking part will be provided with a cardboard mat on arrival from 6pm on the night but will be allowed to take along cardboard and plastic sheeting to build a shelter for the night and people are urged to make a registration costing £10 as soon as possible through the cannockrotary.co.uk website.

They are being encouraged to set a personal target to raise a minimum of £100 in sponsorship through a justgiving page and more information is available by calling Helen Perren on 07949 079174.

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