Preston North End and Preston North End Community and Education Trust [PNECET] are opening their doors to Deepdale again and inviting Prestonians to sleep out and raise essential funds for The Foxton Centre.
Based in the heart of the city, The Foxton Centre works with Preston’s most vulnerable residents - providing a wide range of services. This year, the Big PNE Sleep Out’s goal is to raise £50,000 for The Foxton Day Centre, based on Fox Street, to continue to provide food, warmth and activities for its users.
The event returns as recent figures show Preston has more people sleeping rough than any other place in Lancashire. The latest single night figure showed 13 people sleeping rough, up from six the previous year.
Taking place on Friday 17 November 2023, participants will be encouraged to raise as much sponsorship as possible to spend the night on the side of the pitch* of Deepdale, with only the reused cardboard, kindly provided by Veolia, and whatever supplies they can carry.
They will be greeted with a much-welcome breakfast roll and a brew in the morning, similar to that offered to attendees of the Day Centre.
There will be an option to participate at home for those who are unable to attend - why not arrange a small event with a couple of friends, or at your school, college or community centre for a bigger crowd?
If you are interested in taking part in this unique fundraiser and want to know more, you can attend the public meeting being held on Thursday 20 April from 6pm, at the Foxton Day Centre, Fox Street, Preston.
This will also give those taking part in the Sleep Out an opportunity to hear more about the important services provided by the Foxton.
Jeff Marsh, CEO of The Foxton Centre, said: “The increasing numbers of rough sleepers is one of the reasons why we have opened the new Day Centre at Fox Street.
"The results of the snapshot of rough sleeping across the country have just been published by central government. They show a very worrying trend upwards across the country which follows very rapid falls over the previous year.
"The Centre provides practical support and is important prevention work to stop people becoming homeless in the first place.
"In our first month of operating we saw 145 people asking for help and support.
"We had planned for around 250 individuals to be supported by the Day Centre but after the first few months we’ve had to revise this figure up to around 500 people needing support by the end of the year due to the economic situation many people find themselves facing and the growing demands on our services.
"We have recently invested some of charity’s funds and secured a grant to refurbish the building but will need to find running costs to cover its operation throughout 2024 and the Big PNE Sleep Out will play a vital role in ensuring this happens.”
Tom Drake, CEO of Preston North End Community and Education Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Foxton Centre once again for the return of the Big PNE Sleep Out. 2019 was a memorable experience raising over £90,000 to support and raise awareness about the fantastic work they do.
"This year promises to be no different. We encourage the community to come together once again for this fantastic cause and we are looking forward to opening the doors to Prestonians in November for the next Big PNE Sleep Out and hope it will be even more successful than the last.”
Kevin Abbott, Chair of Trustees at Preston North End Community and Education Trust and Finance Director at Preston North End, said: “As a club, we are delighted to be hosting another Sleep Out at Deepdale, following on from the fantastic success of the 2019 event.
"There was a quite incredible amount of money and awareness raised on that occasion, and we sincerely hope the same can happen once again this year.
"Our supporters - and those in the local community - always give generously and get involved when it comes to events such as these, so we are looking forward to what promises to be another successful event.”
The Big PNE Sleep Out was first held in 2019 and surpassed its target of £50,000 to raise nearly £100,000 to buy and refit a run-down property in Ashton-on-Ribble to house two previously rough sleepers.
Businesses will also be invited to get involved, either by taking part, sponsoring individuals or offering “in-kind” donations to help with operating The Day Centre. The Sleep Out is sponsored and co-organised by Blog Preston and Veolia.
Michael Treadwell, National Account Manager Manager for Veolia, said: “Veolia are delighted to be working with The Foxton Centre, Preston North End Community and Education Trust and Blog Preston to support The Big PNE Sleep Out later this year. After the great success of the 2019 sleepout we want to raise awareness of homelessness in and around the region.
"With the trend of homelessness on the rise with the current cost of living crisis, rough sleepers often seek refuge in large waste containers and risk being injured as a result. We want to highlight the dangers of this activity and ensure that this risk is minimised, whilst promoting the work we do nationally for homeless people.”
As well as providing food, warmth and activities, The Foxton Day Centre offers homeless and vulnerable adults advice, guidance, and support, as well as access to other supporting services.
The money raised will go towards covering heating, lighting, food, activities and operational costs to ensure the doors of the Centre remain open throughout 2024 and beyond.
Anyone interested in taking part in the Big PNE Sleep Out can register via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-big-pne-sleep-out-2023-tickets-595912629717
*The precise location of the sleep out within Deepdale is subject to change.