Lavenham's Cock Horse Inn strives to shine light on plight of homelessness with sponsored 'sleep out' under the stars
A night under the stars on cardboard sheets beckons for a team of pub staff, who wish to highlight the plight of homeless people in Suffolk.
Months after playing a key role in the donations drive for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, The Cock Horse Inn in Lavenham says it has been inspired to also raise awareness of people in need here in the UK.
The team are supporting the Big Sleep Out from Saturday, July 16 to Sunday, July 17, by spending the night in the pub garden in Church Street, with only cardboard, sleeping bags and tents.
Back in February and March, the pub served as a donations hub for the people of Ukraine, amassing and distributing more than 15 tonnes of essential supplies.
Landlady Amanda Poole, who runs the business with her husband Chris, explained that being a part of this process had got them thinking about the struggles that many people face close to home.
She told Suffolk News that they hope having a sleep out in such a prominent place in the village will shine the spotlight on the experience that more than 270,000 homeless people face every night.
“The response to our Ukraine appeal was amazing,” she told the Free Press. “It’s completely overwhelming, how much people gave up their time and money for complete strangers.
“They are going through a difficult time, but there are also plenty of people in our country who are also going through a difficult time.
“When we did our bit for the Ukraine appeal, we didn’t want to forget that there are people in this country that need our help.
“We want to do something to raise some awareness to the issues on our doorstep, so we’re going to make a stand where everyone can see us.
“We will try as best we can to replicate the circumstances that hundreds of thousands of people deal with every evening. It’s the summer now, but the temperature still drops a lot at night.”
As with their Ukraine appeal, The Cock Horse Inn is welcoming contributions of essentials that can help people on the street be 'as warm and safe as possible'.
An online fundraising page has also been set up, in support of the Shelter charity, which provides housing assistance and advice to people at risk of homelessness.
Amanda added: “Even here in Lavenham, there is a need for this kind of support and generally, people think of Lavenham as being a very affluent village.
“When we were collecting for Ukraine, we had a couple of people approach us privately and ask if we could spare some sleeping bags.
“I live in Bury St Edmunds, and sometimes you see somebody sleeping in the entrance of Poundland or Boots, and as much as some people might give them a change or buy them a cup of coffee, they still really need more help.
“I think this is just the beginning for what we want to do with our fundraising. The response has been really great so far. Lots of people are commenting and saying how great it is to raise the awareness.
“It’s a really important thing to make people see and give them a visual aid, because it’s very easy for people to turn a blind eye to things like homelessness.”