The inaugural Sleep Out For Blackburn looks set to raise a sum of around £25,000 to provide a huge boost to the charitable provision supporting homeless people within our town.
Of the 174 registrants for the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust event, 148 followed through on their promise to come and spend Friday night sleeping within the Darwen End stand or concourse, without heating and with only sleeping bags, bedding or cardboard boxes for cover.
The participants generated a fantastic atmosphere within the stand, with camaraderie in clear evidence among the many groups that formed to take part in the challenge as a collective. However, the stark realities of life on the streets were made startlingly evident to them all when a chilly wind blew in from 4.30am onwards, highlighting how difficult it can be to survive without a roof over your head.
This harsh truth hit home to all involved in the event when they awoke to the news that a homeless man had been found dead that morning outside Townsmoor Retail Park - just one mile from Ewood Park.
Therefore, the sum that we hope to achieve is made all the more pertinent and we hope to exceed it further before the cut off for donations of Monday 17th December.
Those that registered but were unable to attend on the night are also urged to add any sums they have raised to the overall pot, in order to increase the extent of the impact this event can create over the longer term.
With a strong likelihood that both Blackburn Rovers Community Trust and Nightsafe will receive around £12,500 each for their work helping the homeless within our local area, event coordinator Jess Clegg felt that it was a job well done.
The Community Trust's events coordinator explained: "It took months of hard work to bring this event to life, but we think that it was well worth it with the passion that all the participants and volunteers have shown towards it, the awareness we have generated and the superb sum that we believe we're going to be able to put towards this issue.
"It was so uplifting to see how well the people of Blackburn and the surrounding areas responded to this concept and the sizeable number that carried through on their promise to take part
"The community spirit that we know exists within Blackburn was very much in evidence and it makes us very proud to think that we were able to facilitate it in such a positive fashion.
"It goes without saying that we're hugely grateful to everyone who contributed to this fundraiser in whichever way they could and it has given us a great motivating tool to continue to create bigger and better events that help to tackle whatever social issues are affecting our area."
Having seen what the 'rough sleepers' put themselves through, anyone wishing to make a retrospective donation can still do so.
A Blackburn Rovers team consisting of finance director Mike Cheston, general manager Lynsey Talbot (plus daughter Courtney) and commercial administrator Jennifer Whalley represented the club, while the Community Trust's Keiran Adamson and Catherine Curran took to the stands, with Jess Clegg, David Dunwell and Martin Winters working a full night shift to ensure the event passed off safely. Several other staff from the club and Community Trust also volunteered their time to work various shifts during the course of the night as Blackburn Rovers came together as one to back this vital societal issue.
Their fundraising page via JustGiving remains live and is available to access by clicking here for those willing to donate.
The 'roll of honour' of participating companies included:
* Crown Paints
* Totally Wicked
* Bowker Ribble Valley
* Darwen Vale High School
* CO-OP Funeral Care
* PM & M
* Pure Gym
* Napthens Solicitors
* Vision Support Services
* Pierce Chartered Accountants
* Blackburn College
* Kirk Lowe Photography
* Blackburn Police Cadet Staff & Rotoract
Blackburn Rovers Community Trust would also like to offer particular thanks to Crown Paints, Exchange Coffee, The Blackburn Reserves Army Unit, McDonald's and Fun Motor Group for supplying provisions for the night including cardboard, foil blankets, hand warmers, hot drinks and food tokens.