Sleepout raises thousands for St Martins

08 February 2020
A team of fundraisers swapped their warm beds for the stone cold floor of Norwich Cathedral’s Cloisters to raise thousands of pounds for homelessness charity St Martins. About 45 people took part in Friday night’s A Night In The Cloisters fundraiser, a sponsored sleepout which is part of a series of events at the Cathedral aiming to shine a spotlight on the issue of homelessness. ​
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (1)

Sleeping in the historic surrounds of the Cloisters of course in no way reflects what life is like on the streets, and the fundraisers heard first-hand about the harsh reality from someone who has lived experience of sleeping rough and has fortunately now managed to get their life back on track.

The fundraisers also took part in a short candlelit service in the Cloisters before settling down in their sleeping bags for the night.

It is hoped that the sleepout has raised more than £8,600 to help St Martins help more people in need turn their lives around - and there is still time for people to help them raise even more by donating funds at www.justgiving.com/team/cloisternight

Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (1)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (9)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (8)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (4)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (3)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (2)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (7)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (6)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (5)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (1)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (9)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (8)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (4)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (3)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (2)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (7)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (6)
Cloister Sleepout (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (5)
The Revd Canon Andrew Bryant, Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care, was one of the event’s organisers.

At the end of the sleepout, he said: “There is something special about waking up to the dawn chorus and looking up at the Cloister's medieval roof bosses.
“Even the hardness of the floor can be forgiven for a night in the cloisters is nothing compared with the reality that rough sleepers face night after night.“As the wind started to blow and I heard the rain falling I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the work of St Martins and for the vital work they do on our streets.”

A Night in the Cloisters is part of a special weekend at Norwich Cathedral focusing on homelessness.

Today (Saturday 8 February) there is a day of activities in the Cathedral from 10am until 3pm.

Real life stories of homelessness are being told through a ‘living library’, where visitors can spend time with people who have been homeless and find out first-hand about their experience.

There is also an opportunity to meet the different agencies working across the city to address homelessness, and find out how best the public can help. Among the organisations attending will be St Martins, Pathways, Samaritans, The Benjamin Foundation, Soul Church, Norwich Street Aid, Emmaus and The Feed.

At 2pm, local author Robert Ashton will talk about his latest book, Any Spare Change?, which documents his quest to understand the issue of homelessness and how the public can help.

St Martins’ The Knitted House has also returned to the Cathedral, after making a big impact when it was first built in the Cathedral last October to coincide with World Homelessness Day. A visual representation of homelessness, The Knitted House consists of 4,677 scarves, with each scarf representing a person who slept on the streets in the UK last year. One in eight of the scarves are black, indicating the number of people who died on the streets.

As part of Saturday’s day of activities, there will be a special act of worship around The Knitted House at 3.30pm.

The Knitted House will remain on display at the Cathedral until February 24.

On Sunday (February 9), Dr Jan Sheldon, CEO of St Martins, will give the address at Norwich Cathedral’s 10.30am Sung Eucharist which will be followed by a community lunch.

Pictures: Bill Smith