HOMELESS charity Arc hosted a virtual Big Sleep Out event on Friday (June 11).

Participants were challenged to spend one night outside to raise awareness and funds for those experiencing homelessness in Taunton, West Somerset and Sedgemoor.

They set up camp in their back gardens, sheds and balconies and spent a night under the stars, while watching a live stream of entertainment provided by Arc.

There was live music from local artists Molly Lucille and Sam Cockram, Qi Gong with Andy from Taunton’s The Sangha House, chilling with Karen from Yoga in Somerset, and storytelling, alongside a quiz about homelessness and a powerful story about one of the clients in Arc’s care.

Organisers had been hopeful for their first dry Big Sleep Out in seven years, but it drizzled throughout the evening. Thankfully, the rain stopped within an hour or so and the stars came out.

Alice Hannon, Arc’s fundraising and communications assistant, said: "This is the first year I have helped organise the Big Sleep Out and the first year I have taken part.

"Sleeping outside, even in the safety of your own garden, was a surreal experience.

"Every noise makes you worry, it’s difficult to get comfortable and stay warm even under several blankets, and the morning dew makes you and your belongings soaking wet – even in June.

"It makes you realise just how draining and exhausting sleeping outside on a regular basis must be and the impact it would have on your physical and mental health."

Although the event was quieter this year, which Arc put down to the easing of restrictions, plenty of fantastic local people took part and braved the elements, as well as raising all important funds for the charity.

One in six people in the UK will experience homelessness in one form or another in their lives.

Arc focuses on those who are impacted in Somerset, providing temporary accommodation, guidance on finances, support with mental and physical health, specialised help for those battling addictions, and even helping with their pets through their PAWS Project.

The Big Sleep out is Arc’s annual event and would normally take place in the charity's office car park on the Crescent, but due to Covid it has taken place virtually since 2020. Arc staff are hopeful that next year the event will be back to normal.

To find out more about Arc’s work, head to www.arcinspire.co.uk or give a like on www.facebook.com/Arc.Homeless