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The Big Crawley Sleepout raises £14,000 for charities

80 people chose to sleep outside on the night of Thursday 21 March to support two local charities – Crawley Open House and YMCA Crawley.



The mass sponsored sleepout event aims to raise vital funds for homeless and vulnerable people across Crawley, and saw local people, businesses and councillors come together to spend a night sleeping under the stars. To date, the event has raised almost £14,000. 

West Sussex County Council is cutting funding to the housing related support budget over the next few years, from £6.3m to £2.3m by 2020/21, putting increasing pressure on local charities. Crawley Open House and YMCA Crawley have a long history in the town and called on the local community to help protect services in the area. Funds raised at the event will be split jointly between the organisations, with money raised helping some of the county’s most disadvantaged people.

Charlie Arratoon, Director of Crawley Open House, says:

“We are all aware that homelessness is increasing, with more people on the streets and more ‘hidden homeless’ who are insecurely housed and not sure where they will be night after night. An event like this does not replicate homelessness but does bring sharply into focus the luxuries many of us take for granted.”  

Sharon Rawcliffe, Senior Project Worker at YMCA Crawley, adds:

“The money raised by the Big Crawley Sleepout will make a huge difference to the vulnerable and homeless people we work with. We are so thankful for those who slept out for a night – we have an amazing community here in Crawley. 

Among those sleeping out on-the-night was Simone, who commented:

“Crawley Sleepout was a big eye opener for me. I didn’t realise how painful it would be trying to sleep on a layer of cardboard, and homeless people do it night after night. I think the YMCA and Crawley Open House do amazing work.”

Donations are still welcome at


Crawley’s first ever ‘Free Supermarket’ opens in Three Bridges to support community



On Sunday (8th November} Crawley’s first ever ‘free supermarket’ opened its doors to the local community.

The Free Shop Crawley is a store run by volunteers with the sole purpose of providing locals with food, toiletries and baby essentials without any associated cost.

Inspired by Marcus Rashford and his campaign to have school meals funded year-round, the stores inception came about when four local women shared a common desire to create a safe place for people in need to come and receive help without fear or shame.

Laura-Jane Wainwright, one of the founders of Free Shop Crawley said:

“Having used food banks in the past, I know first-hand how degrading it can feel.  We wanted to create a dignified space where anyone in need could come and access essentials in a friendly and inclusive environment. The thought of children going to bed hungry and adults losing sleep over financial anxiety broke our hearts and we knew we had to use our skills and resources to help”

Shoppers are encouraged to take up to 10 items from the shop each visit giving them a full basket of daily necessities. Anyone is eligible to visit the store and although there is a ticketing system in place the team are ready to welcome anyone who is in need.

The shop offers a fresh produce section, toiletries and sanitary care, tinned and dried goods, nappies and formula and even children’s clothing and toys.

In week one alone, over 100 people have been fed by the shops offering, showing just how big a need there is for support in not just this area but country wide.

Local businesses have been quick to support the store donating essentials by the van load, even down to kitting out the shop with shelving, tables and hanging racks. Companies including Asda, Co-op and Tilgate Bakery have committed to donate to the store each week.

Free Shop Crawley can be found at CJ’s café, Kingsland Court, Three Bridges, Crawley, RH10 1HL, on Sundays from 2pm-4pm.

Anyone wishing to donate or find out more can visit the Free Shop Crawley Facebook page  or contact the team direct on

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