A Community Sleepout is being organised on June 29th beneath the three billboards at Stoke Newington’s St Mary’s Church.
Money, raised through sponsorship, will help fund a new community hub in place of the current church rooms, which are used by the Night Shelter in the winter, Hackney Food Bank and Hackney Migrant Centre.
Reverend Dilly Baker, of St Mary’s Church, said: “Our Three Billboards campaign has shocked passers-by. It quotes the figure 6,167 homeless in Hackney – that includes those sleeping on the streets or in temporary or emergency accommodation.
“Now we’re asking the community to make a big gesture – to spend a night in the elements, sleeping on the grass whatever the weather."
Participants are urged to bring a sleeping bag, warm clothes and something to sleep on such as a groundsheet or a cardboard box.
The church currently has just one shower for the 25-people using the winter Night Shelter and there’s no private space for those using the Doctors of the World medical service. They hope to launch a soup kitchen, a lunch club for the elderly and a money advice centre. To meet the increased demand, they need more space, a better kitchen and washroom facilities.
Rev Baker added: “Stoke Newington is an area of huge wealth but there’s real poverty here too – a rising number of people resort to foodbanks and with rents sky-high and a shortage of affordable homes, many struggle to make ends meet.”
The billboards were inspired by the hit film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The figure of 6,167 equates to one in 44 people in Hackney.
Having raised over a million, St Mary’s now needs to bring in the final £250,000 before it can lay the first brick. The community centre will also be open to the whole community for classes, meetings and parties.
To donate to the new centre or sign up for the Community Sleepout visit: stmaryscentren16.org
Would you sleep rough for one night?
Posted 13th June 2018
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