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The comedian, the bishop and the MP: Southwark Cathedral to host sponsored sleepout

The Robes Project is staging a sleepout 'under the stars' in the churchyard of Southwark Cathedral next month to raise funds for its winter night shelter for rough sleepers in South London.

The Robes Project is the only church-run winter night shelter between the Thames and Croydon.

19 churches and 300 volunteers provide food, shelter, advice and support for over seventy people sleeping rough every winter night.

The work costs about 85,000 a year and relies solely on donations.

The fundraising sleepout initiative was launched on Sunday evening during a service at Christ Church Southwark to mark the start of the 2011-2012 winter season.

Organiser George Martin described the sleepout to held in the cathedral's churchyard as the charity's "most ambitious fundraising event ever".

The all night event takes place on Friday night 2 December from 9pm. Jo Brand has agreed to provide entertainment. At midnight there will be a soup and roll nightcap and at 7am breakfast is being served by Borough Market's Roast restaurant.

The aim is to recruit 250 people and those wishing to take part can register on the Robes website.

The mayors of both Lambeth and Southwark were present at Sunday evening's service together with Borough and Bankside councillors Poddy Clark and David Noakes.

Simon Hughes MP, who was in the congregation, volunteered to join the sleepout. The Bishop of Southwark is also expected to take part.

Robes supporters were welcomed at Christ Church by rector Tim Scott and the preacher was the Archdeacon of Southwark Michael Ipgrave. Other clergy present included Neil McKinnon, parish priest of St Matthew's-at-the-Elephant, and Peter Stevenson, minister of Crossway United Reformed Church.

Also present was Methodist minister Janet Corlett of Bermondsey Central Hall who is chair of the Robes Project.

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