Kesgrave women sleeping rough to highlight plight of county's homeless

Laura Polley with her childhood friend Grace Nicolls

Childhood friends Laura Polley, 24, and Grace Nicoll, 25, will be sleeping rough in Kesgrave - Credit: Laura Polley

Two young women from Kesgrave will be sleeping rough tomorrow night to highlight the plight of the county's homeless during the pandemic.

University of Suffolk lecturer Laura Polley and her childhood friend Grace Nicoll will be sleeping outdoors overnight with only a sleeping bag, as part of their continued efforts to support the homeless community.

The pair have previously given out homecooked hot meals to those in need, and raised £800 doing a sponsored walk for Shelter in December. The "Sleep Out to Help Out" fundraiser will raise money for the Anglia Care Trust, where Laura has been volunteering for six years.

Laura, a criminology lecturer, said: "Me and Grace have been really passionate about helping homeless people since the first lockdown.

"The lockdowns really have negatively impacted a lot of people – but I really think the homeless are being forgotten about. There is so little outreach going on because of government restrictions.

"It is incredible how they are all coping with the conditions at the moment, it is heartbreaking what they are going through. Government guidance is to shield the vulnerable, and I would argue that is exactly what they are."

The pair will avoid the worst of the weekend weather, with snow set to fall overnight Saturday – although temperatures in the town are set to drop to a cold 4C on Friday. 

A passer by shares his food with a homeless man. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A passer by shares his food with a homeless man. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

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The charity is in charge of activating the severe weather protocol in Ipswich should temperatures drop below freezing for three consecutive nights, meaning they are responsible for providing accommodation for rough sleepers.

"It is really easy to look at rough sleepers and not see them as the same as you," Laura added. "We have made it our mission to sit and have a coffee with them and show them they are not alone.

"So many of us in society are living pay cheque to pay cheque at the minute, and all it could take is a relationship breakdown or redundancy for us to become a person sleeping in a town centre doorway.

"I've never had a rough sleeper who doesn't respond well to a conversation or an offer of help. They are all human beings and they all have stories to tell."

The fundraising duo have already beaten their fundraising target of £500 for the event, although people can continue to donate via their Local Giving page.