– Former homeless woman provides branding for stellar fundraiser –

On Friday 25th November 2016, Southwark and Lambeth homeless charity, the Robes Project, will host its 6th annual SleepOut event at Southwark Cathedral.

More than one hundred people are expected to brave the wet and cold weather to spend a night sleeping on the stone slabs raising money for homeless shelters across south London, with organisers hoping to beat last year’s total of £104,421.

The poster for this year’s SleepOut has been designed by Nicky Nichols, 70, who lives in Croydon having spent most of her life living rough on the streets, but is now in permanent accommodation, which she got for the first time at aged 54. The images depict an elderly woman, who Nicky knew while sleeping rough, and also shows Southwark Cathedral above a bridge.
Commenting on the poster, Nicky Nichols said:
“I’m not a graphic artist, but I have drawn a very sad image of an old lady I once knew on the streets. She has passed away now, and is safe. I have drawn a small image of the Cathedral with a bridge beneath to represent hope and the crossover to a better life that the Robes offers to their guests.”
Last year, caseworkers helped 22 people find more stable accommodation rather than sleeping rough, a number we hope to increase this year. The total funds collected last year, will help the Robes Project provide shelter for 35 people each night this winter, double the number in previous years.

In autumn 2015, more than 900¹ people sleep rough in London, an increase of 27% on 2014, with local agencies reporting 7,581² people were homeless in the Capital last year, an increase of 16% from the previous year. Through the coming winter, from the 31 October to mid-April, 28 churches will work in partnership to host men and women who are homeless and sleeping rough.
George Martin, the Robes Project’s Chair of Trustees says there is a pressing need to expand the shelter network:
“This coming winter we are increasing our capacity and we will be looking after up to 35 guests per night. The cost of our expansion and a year’s running costs is estimated to be £210,000. For this reason, the SleepOut is very important for us, and the money raised at this event will allow us to carry out our vital work and get some of the most vulnerable members of our community off the streets this winter and help them rebuild their lives.”
The Robes Project also hopes the event will help raise awareness of homelessness in south London, giving those who take part, a small taste of some of the difficulties that so many people who are homeless in the Capital have to deal with: the freezing cold, the vulnerability, and the difficulty of carrying on your day with little sleep – giving people a better understanding of the importance of readily available emergency accommodation and support.
Commenting on the SleepOut, The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, said:
“Once more I will be joining those who are sleeping out at the Cathedral to raise money for the Robes Project. The Project does magnificent work for those who are homeless on our streets and it is humbling to be able to join the growing numbers each year who come to the Cathedral in solidarity and support.”

Registration is now open online here. Alternatively, email robes.admin@robes.org.uk for more information.