Park sleepover for underprivileged kids faces funding shortfall as charity pleads for Lambeth businesses to pitch in

Lambeth fundraisers organising a free camping night for low-income families in Lambeth and Southwark have less than three weeks to raise the remaining £6,000 they need.

Sadiq Khan pledged £7,500 to the cause after Big Park Sleepover organisers Paula Webb and her partner Crispin Swayne pitched their project to the Greater London Authority at City Hall.

So far they have raised almost £12,000 of the £18,057 required to make sure the sleepover goes ahead.

If they hit their target by Monday August 1 then 100 families will have the chance to camp out on Lambeth’s Myatt’s Fields Park, enjoying bushcraft workshops, professional storytellers and a show from charity circus the Flying Seagull Project.

Ms Webb said: “It’s a really good way of bringing people together across communities – all these people have really challenging lives and we’re asking for Lambeth to stand up and give them a one night holiday and connect them with nature and the community.”

The social enterprise behind the sleepover, Father Nature, hosted the event in 2011, 2012 and twice in 2013 before its funding from Lambeth local authorities was cut.

After two years without the event, Father Nature has turned to crowdfunding to put on this year’s sleepover, which – if it hits its funding target – will take place on Sunday August 28.

The sleepover is designed to let inner city children, many of whom don’t have regular access to outside space, connect with nature and their community in a safe environment.

“More people aren’t having having holidays, more people feel isolated, more people – particularly residents of Angell Town – feel that they’re isolated and uncared for apart from within their own community,” Ms Webb said.

The support of Lambeth and Southwark businesses will be vital in ensuring the sleepover goes ahead as planned, said London Assembly Member Florence Eshalomi.

“I’d really like to see some Lambeth business actually helping out the local community and the local kids,” she said.

Army cadets will be on hand to provide the security at the sleepover while Lambeth GoodGym has already pledged to help the event run smoothly.

Morgane Sardet, a Brixton mum who went to the Big Park Sleepover with her three children in 2012 and 2013 praised the event and its organisers.

“Being able to get together with local people brings you closer, and this is important for our community and our children, here in Brixton and beyond,” she said.

Picture courtesy of Wayne, with thanks

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