MORE than 60 people took part in Taunton’s sleep out to support homeless people.

The annual event returned for its fifth year, with organisers hoping to raise more than £5,000 this time around.

The Big Sleep Out is run by Arc, formerly known as Taunton Association for the Homeless.

Rosie Hather, organiser of the event, said: “We had more than 70 people come and sleep out this year which is great.

“Everyone sleeping out slept with nothing but a piece of cardboard beneath them and it opens their eyes to the harsh conditions homeless people have to bear.

“Our aim is to make sure that homeless people have somewhere safe to sleep and that no homeless person is on the street for more than one night.

“I would like to thank everyone who attended for their support and for sleeping out.”

Among the Big Sleep Out’s participants was Emma Hurford from Wellington who said she was sleeping out to raise awareness of the homelessness crisis.

She said: “Homelessness is a huge problem in the UK and I think that more needs to be done to help homeless people.

“I have come across a lot of homeless people in my life and when I cycle to Taunton I frequently take a flask out with me to give homeless people something warm to drink.

“I know the homeless in Taunton well and know that Arc do great work on trying to help them.

“This is the first time I have done The Big Sleep Out and I hope it will raise awareness of homelessness and the work Arc do.”

Jodie and her 10-year-old stepdaughter Keira also took part in the sleep out.

Jodie said: “It is really important to raise awareness of homelessness.

“I have done the sleep out a few times now and there are a few of people I know personally who have been affected by homelessness and have been helped by Arc.

“I commend Arc for the work they do but think more needs to be done to help homeless people.”

Keira said: “This year I am doing the sleep out to show my support for the homeless. I have raised £40 for ARC and plan to raise more for other charities this year.”

And Liberal Democrat Councillor Chris Booth attended the event and praised the charity for putting on the event.

He said: “I have been aware of the work that Arc do to help the homeless in Taunton and am pleased to see so that so many people came to the sleep out.

"The new council will work with Arc and other agencies to try to tackle homelessness in Taunton.”