COMEDIANS will keep volunteers cheerful when they sleep out in the cold to raise funds for the homeless.

Charities Homeless Oxfordshire and Aspire Oxford are calling on members of the public to give up their bed for the night to help others leave homelessness behind them for good.

The number of rough sleepers in the city has gone up - the estimate was 94 in November, compared to 89 the previous year.

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And three rough sleepers have lost their lives in the past three months, despite the efforts of homeless agencies to help them off the streets.

The Oxford Times:

The Sleep Out! 2019 event will be held at Oxford University’s Linacre College on Saturday, March 16 and will include an evening of outdoor cinema, live performances from Jericho Comedy, food from Disco Soup and the chance to hear the stories of people who have been homeless themselves.

Fundraising manager at employment charity Aspire Oxford Helen Mariner said: “By signing up to sleep out on March 16 you will be helping our charities to support more vulnerable adults across Oxfordshire who are affected by homelessness.

“This event has a superb line-up of entertainment and will be a truly inspirational experience.

The Oxford Times:

“Whether you’re signing up with friends, family or as a team, you’ll be changing lives.”

Sleepout! 2019 is Oxford’s only mass participation sleepout event.

In previous years organisers have aimed to raise about £30,000 and the funding will add to the £88,000 raised by the Christmas Match Fund.

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Oxfordshire Community Foundation matched donations to nine homelessness agencies via Oxford Poverty Action Trust and organisers said the fund, backed by the Oxford Mail, raised much more than they expected.

Homeless Oxfordshire and Aspire Oxford work with hundreds of vulnerable adults each year, providing long-term solutions to help them break the cycle of homelessness.

The Oxford Times:

By taking part in Sleep Out! and spending the night outside with just a sleeping bag, roll mat and pillow, people can make a real difference to the lives of the homeless in the city.

During freezing cold weather Oxford City Council has funded extra beds for the homeless through its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol.

Churches in the city have also offered their buildings to accommodate rough sleepers for the second year running, in a scheme called the Oxford Winter Night Shelter.

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Those taking part in Sleep Out! must be aged 16 or over and anyone aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Tickets cost from £20 and about 200 people are expected to take part.

To find out more, and to sign up for Sleep Out! visit homelessoxfordshire.uk/support-us/sleepout