THERE was a warm welcome on a chilly evening for fundraisers taking part in the Marah Trust’s sponsored sleep-out in Stroud on Friday.

The grounds of St Laurence Church in the town centre were turned into Cardboard City as supporters spent the night outside, with only their own covers of cardboard and polythene to keep the elements at bay.

It began at 9pm, with the aim being to draw attention to the needs of homeless people and those struggling to maintain a fixed abode in the town.

A short church service was held just before the event and an all-night prayer vigil in St Laurence Church, led by the Rev Kathryn Fleming, took place alongside the sleep-out.

Various church leaders from the Stroud community were joined by Stroud MP Neil Carmichael and Labour parliamentary candidate David Drew for the event, which attracted 27 sleepers.

Sponsorship money raised by the event will go to continuing the work of Marah, a Christian charity committed to supporting vulnerable and marginalised adults in the Stroud district, which provides drop-in sessions with free cooked food and an advocacy service offering advice, guidance and support.

Paul Summersby, a consultant for the charity, said the sleep-out was a great opportunity for members of the community to ‘get a taste of what it is like to sleep out in the open’.

“For safety reasons we have volunteer stewards who watch over the sleepers,” said Paul.

“However those people in our community who have to sleep out in the open every night have no one to watch over them and keep them safe.”

Money is still being collected by those who took part however organisers believe it was a great success.

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