The Hope Centre, based in Campbell Street, deals with more than 110 homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Northampton every day – in 2012 the number was 90.
To help it raise much-needed funds, two University staff members and three students will be taking part in one of the charity’s most popular annual fundraisers, the Big SleepOut, which sees people sleep rough for the night.
This year’s event takes place in Abington Park on Friday 27 January, and will see Senior Marketing Lecturer, Kardi Somerfield, will be sleeping rough with second-year Advertising and Digital Marketing students Tilly Parker, Emmanuella Owusu-Ansah and Aimee Barker.
Aimee said: “We really want to raise awareness of the work the Hope Centre does. It’s quite shocking in this day and age that there are so many people relying on the charity.
“Although it’s just one night, the SleepOut will give us some sort of idea what it’s like to be outside in the elements, with nowhere to go.”
Tilly added: “The homeless are almost dehumanised, people walk past them and don’t give them a thought.
“There will be some of the Hope Centre clients joining us on the night and we are looking forward to finding out how they became homeless. There can be so many reasons, it could just be down to a run of bad luck, and there must be many people who are one pay packet away from losing their home.”
(L to R) Tilly Parker, Kardi Somerfield and Aimee Barker
Kardi and the students will be joined by Accommodation Services Assistant, Claire Henshaw, who is taking part for the third consecutive year.
Claire, who is taking part with her husband Nick, said: “The big SleepOut is hard, cold, wet, lonely – and totally worth it.
“The first time I took part I was by myself, raised my money and turned up with just a sleeping bag and two pieces of cardboard. It snowed all night, I've never felt colder and I even cried.
“The next morning I got home, my husband made me some soup and then I climbed into bed and warmed up – the people I raised money for don't always have that luxury.
“The Hope Centre helps people who need a hand up or a hand out - and the numbers of people who need help just keeps growing. The work they do is amazing and I have so much admiration for all of the volunteers, staff and fundraisers who brace the cold with me. Without them all, I'd hate to think what position the people they help would be in.”