Alex and I entered a Father-Son team for this year’s Big Sleep Out. The event is organised by Stone Pillow, a local charity who help support the homeless in Chichester. It involves teams building cardboard shelters which they sleep in for the night.

The weather was reasonably kind to us – after a morning of rain the skies cleared and stayed dry for the remainder of the afternoon, evening and night (our prayers were indeed answered!). We survived a cold and increasingly windy night, with the aid of thermals and a good sleeping bag – a luxury not afforded to many of the homeless. However, shortly after packing away on the Sunday morning, the heavens opened and it later transpired there was a mini-tornado over Selsey!

There was a great deal of support from volunteers cooking a barbecue in the evening and running the soup kitchen throughout the night. Alex commented on the fact that it was nice to see families bonding and working together, without the electronic gadgets that distract us and can often consume our lives. For me, I was always aware of the simple material things that so many homeless people do not have – food, water, shelter, warmth, family etc – but I learnt that the most damaging effects are often to do with broken relationships and the destruction of self-esteem. The homeless are often some of the most marginalised people in our communities and it is this that needs addressing in our society.

I have since read that the number of homeless in the Bognor and Chichester area is above the national average for the size of our population. Therefore, it was with great delight that Bognor have announced the more permanent opening of a shelter for the homeless to complement St Joseph’s Hostel in Chichester. However, in the week preceding this news, it was also announced that a similar shelter in Littlehampton has been shut due to lack of funding.

Our personal target set by Stone Pillow was to raise £100. However, with the prayers and good will of the congregation here in Pagham we managed to quadruple that sum, raising £400. My (and Alex’s) thanks to you all.

A letter of thanks from Stonepillow

Dear Graham and Alex

On behalf of everyone at Stonepillow I would like to thank you so much for taking part in the Big Sleep Out and raising £365, please pass on our thanks to everyone from St Thomas A Becket Church who sponsored you.

I can assure you that your donation will be put to good use and will certainly go towards maintaining our commitment to supporting the homeless through our recovery pathway: St Joseph’s Night Refuge, The Old Glassworks Day Centre, Sands Drug and Alcohol Recovery Project, Restore Furniture Project and supported move-on accommodation

If you would like any information on the work that we do or would like to sign up to our monthly Email Newsletter please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

Emma Kierans (Administrator)