The team at technology-based accountancy firm Purple Lime have raised more than £1,500 for a homeless charity – including sleeping out overnight in the SleepOut for Doorway.
Three team members of Purple Lime which is based at Hartham Park in Corsham, slept out in the churchyard of St Andrew’s Church, Chippenham last month as part of their fundraising for the charity.
Edd Stone, Charlotte Finlayson and Tom Taylor braved the elements to find out what it felt to be on the streets for a night.
Edd said: “Sleeping out in the churchyard of St Andrew's was quite daunting at first, particularly as we were sleeping near people's graves! The sleep-out itself was fun, with a community atmosphere in the hall with a church service, card games, and fire as people avoided going to bed until 11pm.”
“We were lucky with the weather, being quite a mild night and no rain until 5am. Even so with lots of equipment, I only got a few hours’ sleep, and since then I have been much more aware of how lucky I am to have a roof over my head and a full belly.”
Tom said: “The sleep-out was an eye-opening experience for me, the conditions were poor despite having the ability to bring as many or as little clothes/shelter as I saw fit.”
“The weather was mostly mild however it rained heavily from 5am making short work of my simplistic cardboard structure, it quickly led to myself and my belongings getting drenched. This gave me an insight into the unpredictability of the sleeping conditions that many homeless people face.
"In the cramped conditions with little padding underneath me, I found it very difficult to sleep and I found myself with some discomfort in my hip. This was from only one night of exposure to the elements.”
“One thing I will take away from the experience is to be more thankful for the simple things that are often taken for granted; access to regular food & drink, comfort, shelter and warmth.”
Being part of the SleepOut was just one activity the Purple Lime team took part in to raise money for the Doorway project, which provides a drop-in centre for the homeless at the Salvation Army Hall in Chippenham.
Volunteers for the charity also help those who use the service with activities to reduce their isolation. This includes music, creative writing, sports, a women’s group and access to services to help users ‘move on’ with their lives.
The SleepOut is a key fundraising event for Doorway. Director Jo Kitching said: “A record 49 people took part in Doorway’s biennial SleepOut raising almost £20,000 for our drop-in centre for homeless and vulnerably housed people in Wiltshire.
"There were participants from local companies, schools, as well as individuals, who braved the rain to support those who’ve lost their home and/or have to spend nights sleeping rough.
"Sleepers were able to take part in a church service at St Andrews Church followed by a performance by the Lingmara Choir before they bedded down outside, some under cardboard, some with only sleeping bags. It was a long night with the church bells ringing every 15 minutes.”
The Purple Lime team also donated around £500 of items before Christmas including Rough Sleeper Packs, socks, gloves, female hygiene products and general sanitary products. They did this instead of sending cards and gifts to their clients. The rest of the money has been raised from sponsorship for the Sleep Out – to date £1000 plus gift aid.
Angela Ashworth, co-founder of Purple Lime, said: “I’d like to thank team members for sleeping rough for a night and also our clients for supporting us to raise money to help those less fortunate – and often hidden – in our local community.”
“We are so grateful to Purple Lime for raising an amazing amount of money for us which made a big difference to the total," said Jo.
"It will go to very good use throughout the next two years, providing much needed hot food, showers, laundry facilities and other support to our guests.
"The SleepOut is a really important source of funding for us and without it we would struggle to keep the drop-in open. We’re already looking forward to the next SleepOut, booked for January 2022, which we hope will be even more successful.”