Homelessness is a problem that is growing all the time in Sudbury, according to the Rev Canon Cheryl Collins, from St Gregory’s Church.
She will be joined by congregation member Anthony Arbuthnot and Teresa Bishop, manager of The Christopher Centre, on Friday night to sleep rough in the porch of her church to highlight the issue.
The trio’s sponsored sleep-out, from 9.30pm to 6am on Saturday morning, will raise money for the Church of England Urban Fund, which works with the homeless.
“Homelessness is growing all the time in Sudbury and is likely to get worse when the Universal Credit hits us,” said Canon Collins.
“In the new year, I am going to have a look at the possibility of having a night shelter at the church. They do it in Ipswich and I am going to look at how we might be able to do it here. It may not be feasible, but I want to find out.”
So far, Canon Collins has raised more than £400 online and around £330 from a sponsorship form kept at the church. Her companions are also raising money from sponsorship.
Teresa Bishop, herself once homeless, says people do not realise there are homeless people in Sudbury because “they are not falling over bodies in doorways”.
But she said the problem was “seriously real” with people coming to Sudbury from other areas like Ipswich to sleep rough because they have been beaten up and do not feel safe.
She said: “People who are homeless are living in challenging circumstances. We know a lot of young people in Sudbury who are sofa-surfing and they do not have a home.
“All they want is a place where they can go in, close the door and feel safe. With all the empty buildings in Sudbury, we should be able to help them.”
She helps run support groups for people who are homeless, on low incomes or in vulnerable situations, including a drop-in session called Open House at the Christopher Centre on Mondays from 10am to noon, followed by a free lunch at Suffolk Road Church, from noon to 2pm.
A free Christmas lunch is also at Suffolk Road Church for anyone who wants it, she said.
To sponsor Cheryl, go to https://sleepoutchallenge2017.everydayhero.com/uk/cheryl