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MP backs bromfordsleepout to highlight homeless plight

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Nuneaton MP Marcus Jones has offered his support to campaigners who are organising a winter sleep-out that aims to highlight the worsening plight of the homeless in Warwickshire.

He has offered to spend time with the team of support workers from leading social business Bromford on Friday, November 29, when they visit what will be a new night shelter for homeless people at Nuneaton's Attleborough Baptist Church.

Mr Jones also hopes to join the volunteers, led by Bromford senior support worker Terri Boffin, as they prepare to settle down for the night in the town centre and share a little of the hardship experienced by rough sleepers across the county. 

Their Friday night sleep-out is timed to promote the December 1 launch of Nuneaton's Night Shelter programme - with a collective of seven churches taking it in turn across the week to offer up to 10 rough sleepers refuge, a hot meal and breakfast. 

Bromford volunteers also want to encourage local people and organisations to help with useful donations such as warm winter gear and bottled water.

The MP said: "This is a very important initiative and I feel it is absolutely imperative that Members of Parliament understand as far as possible what homeless people experience. By spending time with Bromford and developing a deeper knowledge of this problem, I hope to be able to fully understand how the Nights Shelters scheme will benefit local people who are in this difficult position."

Terri said: "We can guarantee Mr Jones a warm welcome at the church - just like the ten homeless people who will be spending Friday nights there after December 1 - and really appreciate his offer to come along and see for himself how we and other organisations are responding to this issue. 

"Rough sleeping is a very real problem - and it's only getting worse. We know this from our work helping adult offenders when they are released from prison and can't find stable accommodation. But it's a much wider problem than that - times are tough. 

"Even working people can get behind with their rent, lose their home and end up sleeping on a friend's sofa or in their car. So many people are having to cut out meals and other basics to make sure they have enough to pay the rent.

"The fact is that every night of the week, while most of us are snuggling up watching tv in our nice, warm living rooms or maybe enjoying a night out with family or friends, other less fortunate people are sleeping outside or - if they're lucky - on a hostel bed."

Terri and her Bromford Support colleagues Emma Beard and Bev Deeming will visit a number of homeless hotspots around the town and offer various forms of advice and support to local rough sleepers before picking a spot and settling down.

They plan to record their sleep-out experience on social media channels such as Twitter and YouTube but they're determined that the sleep-out will be more than a publicity stunt.

"It would have been easier for us to gather up a big group of 20 or so colleagues but we're trying to make the experience as authentic as possible by keeping it to just a few of us," said Terri.

"We genuinely want to experience some of that hardship and hope that our sleep-out will make other members of the wider community think about the plight of the homeless - even if it's only for a few minutes - and react by offering to help."

 That help can take the form of useful items such as blankets, warm clothing, sleeping bags, rucksacks and bottled water. If you can offer any of these items or help in another way, call Terri Boffin on 07912 275 265 or 02476 373 603.

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