A cold stone floor in Norwich Cathedral’s Cloisters will be the makeshift bed for fundraisers taking part in a unique sleepout on Friday February 7.
Called A Night In The Cloisters, the event is challenging people aged 18 and over to spend the night in the centuries-old surrounds, from 9pm to 7.30am, and raise as much money as they can for St Martins.
During the night somebody with lived experience of sleeping rough will also talk to the fundraisers about what it really feels like to be homeless and how they were supported to get their life back on track. There will be a chance to hear about how the Pathways service works in Norwich helping people sleeping on the streets to access accommodation and support and to rebuild their lives.
Organiser Rev Canon Andrew Bryant, Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care, said: “It cannot be considered any great hardship to go to sleep amidst the wonderful architecture of the Cloisters; uncomfortable and cold perhaps, but safe and dry and for one night only.
“There is nothing virtuous about being part of a sleepout. The purpose is to raise funds for an excellent local charity who supports homeless people every day of the year. We hope the event will raise awareness about the issue of homelessness and inform people about what we can all do to help.”
A Night in the Cloisters is part of a special weekend at Norwich Cathedral focusing on homelessness.
On Saturday February 8, there will be a day of activities in the Cathedral from 10am until 3pm. Real life stories of homelessness will be told through a ‘living library’, whereby visitors to the Cathedral can spend time with people who have been homeless and find out first-hand about their experience. There will also be 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 and King’s Lynn Winter Night Shelter.
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 will also be returning to the Cathedral from February 6 to 24, 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 the day of activities on Saturday February 8, there will be a special act of worship around The Knitted House at 3.30pm.
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.
People who would like to take part in the A Night in the Cloisters sleepout challenge starting at 9pm on Friday February 7, or who would like to make a donation, should visit https://www.justgiving.com/team/cloisternight or email the Rev Canon Andrew Bryant for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org