Homeless charity Framework says it has been forced to cancel this year’s Big Sleep Out following threats from activists.
The charity, which runs a hostel in Mansfield, had been intending to use its flagship fundraising event – a sponsored sleep out – to launch its Off the Streets fundraising campaign but has taken the unprecedented step of cancelling the event after activists promised to disrupt it, a spokesman claimed.
Framework, which supports and accommodates homeless and vulnerable people in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire as well as in Derbyshire and Lincolnshire, has been holding its Big Sleep Out for more than 15 years.
This year’s event, planned for Saturday November 26 at Nottingham’s Sneinton Market Square, was expected to raise more than £30,000 to kick start an urgent £230,000 fundraising appeal to support the growing number of people sleeping rough in the county.
However, organisers of the event, which was expected to attract up to 300 people including families with young children, were recently alerted to a “serious and credible attempt” to disrupt the event by members of two activists groups, the charity said.
Framework operations director Michael Leng said: “The proposed action of these groups is entirely counter-productive. They claim to have the interests of homeless people at heart but are preventing public support for a realistic plan to help tackle the crisis of homelessness in Nottinghamshire.
“The activists have a clearly-stated intention to disrupt the Big Sleep Out and to harass our supporters. We cannot ignore that threat and have a duty to act in the best interests of those supporters.
“Since becoming aware of this issue we have worked extensively with Nottinghamshire Police who have considered the matter at the highest level and have provided extensive consultation and support for which Framework is most grateful.
“The police could no doubt keep the event physically safe but they would be unable to stop the non-physical harm that would occur in this public place and their presence would inevitably change the nature of the occasion.”