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On Saturday 29th December, a group of hardy souls from Fresh Egg agreed to take part in a sponsored sleep out in aid of the Worthing Churches Homeless Project, raising money by finding out what exactly it would be like to sleep rough in the winter weather. Camped out on the bare concrete playground of Broadwater CofE School, the stalwart collection of SEO engineers and web designers tested their skills at constructing a cardboard shelter to keep the worst of the weather at bay.
The web design team showed their prowess at not just building groovy websites, but by also constructing a palatial multi-level construction that would have had Norman Foster himself pouting with envy. Other variations included multi-occupancy shelters, carpeting (!), a cardboard wind shelter (referred to as “The Toblerone”) and SEO survival heroes Alex and Jon opting to rough it in just their sleeping bags.
Keeping spirits soaring despite the plummeting temperatures was Tony Goldstone, leading sing-alongs and an improvised rhythm section with a few blues numbers on his cigar-box guitar. All too soon it was time for lights out and settling in against the night’s chill, predicted to hit minus three.
Cold is an understatement. Just about any area of skin not mummified by layers of insulation felt as though it was being doused with ice, making sleep in the blustery wind sporadic and, in some cases, impossible. The general noise of the outside coupled with restless sleepers (and a few snorers who managed to drop off) also made the hours pass rather slowly. It was with definite relief that we extricated ourselves from a thin layer of frost in the morning and dismantled our habitats, dreaming of a soft warm bed at home.
It was a humbling experience, despite the good natured turnout and banter, I suspect none of us fancied spending much longer in the cold with our aching hips and backs than we had to. It shows what vital work the WCHP does to tackle a serious issue in our locality, especially with the ferociously cold conditions this winter.