Launchpad’s Big Sleep Out is back with a new location and time of the year.

Every year, the Big Sleep Out sees people swap their beds for a sleeping bag and cardboard box for the night, raising money to help prevent homelessness in Reading.

The annual event has been moved to October 10 this year – World Homeless Day – at the Reading Abbey Ruins, having previously taken place in August at Queen Anne’s School.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) spoke to councillors taking part in the event, which has raised £200,000 since it started running 14 years ago.

Councillor Rob White, Reading Green Party leader, will be taking part and is fundraising ahead of the event.

He said: “I have been doing Launchpad’s Big Sleep Out most years for the last 6 or so.

“I had the year off that James was born. I think it’s a really practical way to do something to help with Reading’s homelessness and rough sleeping problems.

“Most years I have slept reasonably well apart from last year when I got wet, my sleeping bag seemed to be sliding down the slope and someone nearby was snoring – possibly Green campaigner David McElroy who also took part.

“It’s always great to hear about Launchpad’s work and humbling to hear from the service users.

“I’m looking forward to this year but am slightly concerned about the wildlife with the new location being close to the river.”

Cllr Ennis, lead member for Housing at RBC and a probation officer and will be sleeping out alongside several of his work colleagues as well as fellow councillors.

He said: “As probation officers who work with people who are often homeless, they really assist us so we want to give something back.

“I have done it four or five times now. It is great that they have moved it to October and to the abbey.

“It is international homeless day. In mid-October you are going to know the weather.

“People need to understand what it is like not to have a home. Living on the streets is one of the worst things you can experience.”

His colleagues, Labour councillors Ellie Emberson and Karen Rowland, will also be taking part.

Councillor Ellie Emberson, lead member for Corporate and Consumer Services, said: “I want to get involved because I know the great work that Launchpad do for Reading.

“Having supported John with the homeless count in the winter it is really vital that we support those who unfortunately find themselves on the streets.

“This will be my first year doing it and I will have the sleeping bag handy!”

Launchpad provides information and support for individuals, couples and families who don’t have a stable place to live or are at risk of losing their home.

The charity aims to prevent homelessness by providing drop-in, legal advice and floating support services to help people overcome housing-related challenges before they get worse.

Big Sleep Out doesn’t aim to replicate homelessness – participants sleep out for just one night and the evening will include entertainment, food and some special guests.

Instead, it offers a brief insight into some of the things you might face if you are street homeless, such as cold temperatures, an uncomfortable bed and limited sleep.

Ian Caren, chief executive of Launchpad, said, “Big Sleep Out is one of the biggest fundraising events in Launchpad’s calendar and it’s set to get even bigger.

“Reading Abbey Ruins is an iconic landmark for the town and will make a brilliant new location for hundreds of people to sleep out, mark World Homeless Day and raise vital funds for the charity.

“No one should have to endure sleeping on the streets, which is why Launchpad helps vulnerable people in Reading tackle their housing-related problems, obtain and sustain a long-term home and lead full and independent lives.

“It’s with events like Big Sleep Out and the generosity of our supporters that we are able to continue our work to prevent homelessness.”