THE thought of spending a night under the stars in a sleeping bag at this time of year will probably send a shiver down your spine.

But then, the thought of more than 7,000 people estimated to be rough sleeping in Essex during last month’s Christmas festivities would probably turn your fears into tears.

So if homelessness – which was up 14 percent nationally as the housing crisis escalated in 2023 – leaves you cold, then you might want to consider this heart-warming fundraiser.

CHESS Homeless, which provides temporary accommodation and support for up to 60 homeless adults in Essex, is co-hosting its popular Sleep Out event again on Friday, March 22.

In case you are wondering, CHESS stands for the Churches Homeless Emergency Support Scheme and its embryonic form started in the early 1990s.

The Sleep Out will be at the home of the mighty Essex County Cricket Club – the Cloudfm County Ground in New Writtle Street, Chelmsford, between 8pm and 8am.

A similar event took place in November 2023 at the historic Chelmsford Cathedral, so please look out for details of a repeat at that venue later this year.

Participating fundraisers this spring will get a small taste of what it is like to sleep out in the cold stands at the County Ground, an iconic sporting venue which is nearly a century old.

Last year’s inaugural event raised £3,200, with nearly half of that total generated through corporate sponsorships.

Generous local businesses funded refreshments and cardboard boxes sporting their company logos, which were used as bedding for those taking part.

Participants need to bring a sleeping bag and dress warmly and pay £10 for entry by clicking this link.

They will then be sent a fundraising pack, receive a small goody bag on the night and, most importantly, can return to their warm beds in the knowledge they helped make a positive difference to the community.

Funds raised will be split equally between registered charities CHESS Homeless (1093901) and the Essex Cricket Foundation (1138269), which promotes sport and education for all.

The event is also run in partnership with Networking Essex, which helps bring businesses together through fun and informal networking meetings.

For further information, call CHESS Homeless on 01245 281104 or email [email protected]