Ashton street sleep-out raises thousands for local causes
Friday 23rd December 2016 @ 12:50 by Adam Higgins
Ashton Community News

A sleep-out on the streets of Ashton has raised more than £5,000 for a dozen local causes with yet more money still to be counted.

Ashton MP Angela Rayner, local councillors Gillian Peet and Leigh Drennan and Tameside Radio’s Louise Croombs were part of the 27 strong group of fundraisers, which also included two dogs!

They spent eight hours on the street with nothing but sleeping bags, helping numerous charities in the process.

The sleep-out was arranged by Pauline Town, Manager of the Station Hotel pub, as part of her role as secretary of the We Shall Overcome anti-austerity movement.

Despite helping homeless and vulnerable people on a daily basis, she said the sleep-out was an eye-opener.

“It was cold,” she said. “But it’s also a real eye-opener because eight hours doesn’t sound like a long time, but when it’s cold and it’s dark, the thing you really notice is when the pubs are kicking out at 3/4am and you hear all the voices. It’s actually quite intimidating.

“There was a big group of us and we had security there but you do get an adrenaline rush and then you can’t go back to sleep because you’re a bit scared. How people cope out there and live that way, I’ve got no idea.”

The full list of charities and causes that have been helped by the money raised is extensive and includes a grieving family, a homeless couple and a women’s refuge centre.

Any leftover cash will be donated to Infinity Initiatives and ring-fenced for homeless or vulnerable people.

Pauline said: “Originally it was going to be split between 12 different causes; two animal sanctuaries, two mental health ones, four homeless charities and various other Christmas appeals. It’s all local community causes or local charities.

“We’re all kind of linked all year round so this appeal is being spread between everybody who is linked together. It’s very much a team effort.”

MP Angela Rayner echoed Pauline’s sentiments that it was worth facing the cold to help so many people.

“It must be one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life, because it was a bitterly cold night,” she said.

“But I managed to keep relatively warm under all my layers of clothing. And it was well worth it to raise money and to highlight such good local causes.”

For Pauline, the sleep-out ends a fantastic year of fundraising by the local community, for the local community.

“I just want to add a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past year,” she said.

“It was our last We Shall Overcome gig for 2016. We’ll have the money to help people right throughout Christmas.

“Everybody who donates tins, clothes etc. know it goes straight out to those who need it.

“It’s not just me doing this; it’s the whole community in Ashton and Tameside. It’s been a team effort and everybody has been absolutely phenomenal.”

Tameside Radio presenter Louise Croombs said: “I joined them on the sleepout in the summer and only had one sleeping bag then. This time I had two sleeping bags and multiple layers and I just could not get warm.

“I dread to think what it must be like to be wet and sleeping on the streets, or to do it for multiple nights. I also didn’t realise how vulnerable I would feel, even though we were in a group.

“It saddens me that this is people’s lives for weeks and months on end.”


By Tom Greggan