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As winter begins to draw in a charity is encouraging volunteers to join Sleep Out

PUBLISHED: 14:20 20 September 2018 | UPDATED: 19:18 20 September 2018

Launch of the Benjamin Foundation Sleep Out, 2018.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Launch of the Benjamin Foundation Sleep Out, 2018. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

Potential participants in a charity sleep out in Norwich which raises awareness of homelessness have been hearing more about the feat.

Staff from the Benjamin Foundation, alongside regular participants, spoke to people considering signing up to this year’s Sleep Out at the Rooftop Gardens on Rose Lane on Wednesday night.

Previously held in the Archant car park in Norwich last year, the Benjamin Foundation’s annual Sleep Out 2018 will be held at Carrow Road on Thursday, November 15.

Jill Watkinson, who has become known as Biscuit Jill for her work donating biscuits to Norfolk charities, has attended since the beginning four years ago.

The 60-year-old volunteer 
said: “I suppose I do it because 
I see homeless people in 
Norwich and I think ‘what can 
I do to physically help them 
and put myself in their 
shoes’?

Launch of the Benjamin Foundation Sleep Out, 2018. David Powles, editor of the EDP and Norwich Evening News, speaking at the event.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYLaunch of the Benjamin Foundation Sleep Out, 2018. David Powles, editor of the EDP and Norwich Evening News, speaking at the event. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“It’s not easy, and I won’t say 
it’s something you look forward 
to doing, but you do it, and I’ll keep doing it as long as they carry on because we have to do something about youth homelessness in this city. Everybody should do it.”

Kicking off at 7pm, the Benjamin Foundation will offer event-goers hot snacks and drinks – including vegetarian options – as well as breakfast and toilet access, and will also present a short talk on the Foundation’s work.

Staff members will watch the sleepers on a shift basis to ensure their safety.

Speaking at the event, David Powles, editor of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, who took part last year, said: “When you go into it you kind of imagine it’s going to be easy.

Launch of the Benjamin Foundation Sleep Out, 2018. David Powles, editor of the EDP and Norwich Evening News, speaking at the event.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYLaunch of the Benjamin Foundation Sleep Out, 2018. David Powles, editor of the EDP and Norwich Evening News, speaking at the event. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“Actually as the night unfolds it gets harder and harder. It surprised me how quiet it got, how cold it got, and how lonely it got very quickly, despite the fact you know you’ve got 120 people around you.

“It really does make you think about the people who have to do this every single day. That would be a real challenge mentally and physically.”

The Benjamin Foundation began in Norfolk in 1994, and now employs 200 staff in the county and Suffolk to help with homelessness, as well as families. It works with more than 100 people every day.

To sign up for the Sleep Out 2018 visit benjaminfoundation.co.uk/sleep-out-2018 or call 01603 886933. The registering cost is £25 per person, plus a £1.49 Eventbrite fee.

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