NEARLY 100 people took part in Taunton’s biggest ever sleep out to support homeless people.

The annual event returned for its fourth year, with organisers hoping to raise more than £8,000 this time around.

The Big Sleep Out is run by Arc, formerly known as Taunton Association for the Homeless.

Rosie Hather, the event organiser, said: “As I am each year at the Big Sleep Out, I was thrilled and overwhelmed by the support and the amount of people who chose to give their beds up for the night, to sleep in a car park with nothing but a piece of cardboard beneath them.

“This year, 100 of us were out in force, doing what we can do put an end to homelessness.

“Thank you to everyone involved and everyone who contributed in some form. So far we are on £7,500 but hoping to meet the £8,000 mark.”

Among the Big Sleep Out’s participants were a team from Taunton firm Claims Consortium. Together, they raised more than £1,700 for the charity.

Ahead of his night out in the cold, Nick Eggbeer said: “This is my first time doing the sleep out. I am aware of Arc as it is one of our charities at work, and I just wanted to give something back.

“I think that really this does give you a little test, but we are in a safe environment.

“I spoke to a homeless person once and he had had his tent set alight, so he had to move.”

Sue Hill added: “We made the choice to do this, whereas they have to find somewhere to sleep every night. That could be any one of us.

Ciaran Murphy, another colleague, said: “You are only three mortgage payments away from being out on the street. I could go to my mum’s, but some people aren’t so lucky.

Jodie Robertson, also from Claim Consortium, took part in last year’s event as well.

She said: “It is difficult, especially when it starts to get cold. The ground is really hard even though it might not seem too bad at the start.

“It is a painful sleep, and it is quite scary even though we are in a safe environment.

“It is difficult, but you wake up in the morning with a real sense of achievement. It is an experience I think everyone should do.”

Taunton mayor Catherine Herbert, who took part in the first Big Sleep Out in 2015, also visited.

She said: “We see some of the issues of homelessness in Taunton regularly, so anywhere we can help support Arc and help people turn their lives around.

“Some people have complex needs and it is just a case of putting them in touch with the right people.”

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