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Winchester: Island sleep-out

21 December 2012

WE DO not often hear from the Channel Islands on this page, even though they are part of the diocese of Winchester. But the church administrator at St Brelade's, on Jersey, Terri Bond, tells me that more than 80 people braved the weather to sleep out in a car park at the end of November, to raise funds and awareness for the homeless projects on the island.

Among them were clergy, politicians, journalists, and fund-raisers from a number of charities, all sustained by warm drinks and sandwiches (right). The Revd Mark Bond, Rector of St Brelade's (he calls it the prettiest church on the island), says that "Jersey is often seen as an affluent island, but there are still the same problems of homelessness caused by family breakdown, unemployment, drugs, and alcoholism as anywhere else."

He, with two others, started a ten-bed hostel for homeless men two years ago. It has now grown to 30 beds, and they have set up a formal trust. "We try to stop them hitting rock bottom," he tells me.

Homelessness tends to be hidden on the island, with men sleeping on floors and sofas rather than in doorways, but it is still important to keep them from a downward spiral. Mr Bond tells me that, so far, they have helped some 120 men "who have come out the other side". The sleep-out, he says, was about "changing hearts and minds, changing negative attitudes to those who have it tough".

They are still collecting the sponsorship money, but, judging by the pledges, the total should be substantial.

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