Sleep Out for Blackburn is returning to Ewood Park on Friday 27th March, with Blackburn Foodbank named as the joint beneficiaries of the 2020 incarnation of the charity fundraiser that sees willing volunteers sleeping rough inside the stadium.
The first ‘Sleep Out’ in November 2018 raised £25,374.04 from the fundraising undertaken by 140 participants, with the money split between organisers Blackburn Rovers Community Trust and local homeless shelter Nightsafe, allowing both charities to support activities in aid of the homeless population in the local area.
This year, the concept’s reach has been extended to also assist families in financial difficulties by offering the 50% portion donated by the Community Trust to another worthy cause in the form of the Foodbank, situated on Oakenhurst Road.
Brave volunteers for this year’s event will be asked to either sleep in the open air of the Darwen End lower tier or the marginally less exposed surroundings of the stand’s concourse from 8pm on Friday 27th March through to 6am on Saturday 28th March.
Entry is open to individuals, groups and businesses, with each person asked to raise a minimum of £100 towards the fundraising tally.
The new partner in this year’s event, Blackburn Foodbank, was founded in 2012 and is a registered charity with four part-time staff and over 60 volunteers that primarily focuses on providing nutritionally balanced emergency food parcels to people who, for a variety of reasons are experiencing a period of crisis.
Alongside providing food parcels many of their clients, the Foodbank offers a Money Advice Service, showers, clothes bank, computer hub and cafeteria, serving an average of 150 meals a week in a non-judgmental, welcoming space for people to talk and access emotional support.
Everyone using the Foodbank has been assessed as being in need of our support by one of the 160 local agencies who refer people to them; mainly due to delays and changes in benefits, especially related to Universal Credit, and the challenges of living on low income made worse by circumstances like a period of illness, family breakdown or the loss of a job.
Many of the runners in the Community Trust’s recent Blackburn 10k race were fundraising on behalf of the largely volunteer-staffed facility to cover essential costs such as salaries, rent, heating and lighting, with the same basic needs being supported by the proceeds that the forthcoming Sleep Out will generate.
Blackburn Rovers Community Trust also undertake a number of regular initiatives to support people who are homeless or struggling financially, with some of their 44 projects incorporating the creation of food parcels, organising volunteering in aid of homeless charities or putting on events like December’s Winter Warmer at Ewood Park, which served warm food and provided free clothing to hundreds of local people in need of essential pre-Christmas support.
Jess Clegg, events and fundraising officer at Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, is urging the local community to rally around the event in event greater numbers than Sleep Out for Blackburn’s successful first incarnation 14 months ago, explaining:
“We were overwhelmed by the volume of bravery and goodwill shown by everyone that supported our first ‘Sleep Out’ and we hope that this latest event will potentially usurp what the collective community spirit of the Blackburn people achieved first time around.
“The premise to event remains the same and we ask people to supply whatever essential bedding they need to get through the night in basic comfort and safety, while we will supply cardboard underlays and any warm drinks that are needed throughout the night.
“We have learned from the chilling early morning wind that blew through the stadium last time round and brought the finishing time forward slightly earlier, as well as testing a different time of year in the hope of a slightly more tolerable climate, albeit one that will still test participants and give them a real sense of the challenge felt by people who don’t have a place to call home.
“I’m delighted that Blackburn Foodbank’s excellent work is also being recognised through our 2020 fundraiser and hope that this helps them to continue supporting the 11,214 people in our local area that turned to them for help in 2019.”
Registration for Sleep Out for Blackburn 2020 is now open via the form below for anyone aged 12 or over – though please note that anyone between the ages of 12 and 17 inclusive must be registered and accompanied by an adult, who will be responsible for that child’s welfare.
The deadline for registrations is 5pm on Friday 20th March and a full volunteer pack will be distributed to each volunteer via email following their registration. The event has a set capacity of 200 volunteers on a first-come, first-served basis.
For clarification on any queries you may have regarding the event, please contact Jess Clegg via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01254 508122.