The Chief Executive Officer of People’s Partnership spent a night sleeping rough on the streets of Crawley to raise much-needed funds for a local charity.

Using only a sleeping bag and a piece of cardboard, Patrick Heath-Lay, who leads 850 staff at the Manor Royal-based provider of The People’s Pension, spent Thursday night in the town’s Queen’s Square, braving rain and temperatures of 8 degrees Celsius. He, two colleagues, and fellow volunteers were taking part in the Big Sleep Out, which is the major fundraising event of the year for Crawley Open House.

The Three Bridges organisation provides shelter for 55 homeless people every night and, last year alone, provided 48,000 meals. It is currently People’s Partnership charity of the year, which means that it receives the proceeds of fundraising by staff throughout the financial year and employees are also volunteering to help with various tasks, including working in the kitchens.

Mr Heath-Lay said:

“It’s worrying to think that many people are only two or three pay cheques away from homelessness at any given time, and with the cost-of-living crisis this could worsen. I spent the evening reflecting on the fears and uncertainty faced by those who find themselves homeless. I’m lucky that I get to go home but for too many people in the local community, who often go unnoticed, this isn’t the case.

“As an organisation that has been at the heart of the community for 60 years, we really want to give back to the local area and are honoured to support Crawley Open House, so it can continue its valuable work.”

Ian Wilkins from Crawley Open House said: “We are very grateful to Patrick and his team from People’s Partnership for giving up their time and home comforts for the night. We know it’s only a tiny glimpse of the discomfort and vulnerability that too many have to face EVERY night, but it’s a good way of raising the profile of the issue. The event also raises vital funds towards our work offering accommodation, food and support to those experiencing homelessness and severe hardship locally, and we are thankful to all those who took part and those who sponsored them.”

To support Patrick and his colleagues’ fundraising efforts, please visit: People’s Partnership is fundraising for Crawley Open House ( People’s Partnership will match the amount that is raised.