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Thousands sleep out to help wildlife

Thousands of people are expected to camp out next week as part of our Big Wild Sleepout (16-22 June).

We’re asking people to spend a night under the stars to find out which creatures they share their homes with, and raise money to help protect them.

Bedtime stories

A number of celebrities have lent their voice to support the event by recording a series of bedtime stories to help people nod off on their Sleepout. Zoë Ball, Emilia Fox, Bill Oddie, Alison Steadman and RSPB President Miranda Krestovnikoff, are just some of the famous names who have recorded a tale from The RSPB’s Bumper Book of Wildlife Stories, which people will be able to listen to via the RSPB’s website.

While some people’s Big Wild Sleepout will entail the traditional tent in a garden, more adventurous campers will be building and sleeping in dens and shelters, or going au naturel with just a sleeping bag between them and the stars.

But it’s not just gardens where people can camp out. Big Wild Sleepout events on and off RSPB reserves across the country will be happening all week.

Weird and wonderful sleepouts 

Some of the more unusual Sleepouts include building an iron age roundhouse and then sleeping in it at an event on Aylesbeare Common in Devon, an opportunity to sleep among the wildlife on a farm in Peterborough, and in Sussex The Secret Campsite is offering people the chance to sleep up high in its Tree Tent, which is suspended mid-air between three sturdy oak trees on the edge an ancient woodland. The Tree Tent was the first in England and has featured in George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on Channel 4.

In Wales, for the first time in 3000 years, human beings will sleep 600ft underground at the National Showcaves Centre for Wales near Swansea. Up to 15 children will be putting their fears aside to raise money for the RSPB by setting up camp underground, surrounded by a large lake and two 40ft high waterfalls.

The RSPB is also encouraging families or groups of friends to camp out in their back garden to raise money and help save wildlife. The charity has produced a fundraising guide full of ideas about what to do and how you can raise money, such as den building, torchlight safaris, bug hunting and outdoor cooking. The person who raises the most for Big Wild Sleepout using JustGiving will be given a cool £500 worth of camping and RSPB goodies, courtesy of event supporter Blacks.

What it’s all for

All of the money raised will go to help give nature a home. £20 could buy a nestbox for starlings, £30 could pay for a GPS tag to monitor where a seabird flies to find food and £60 could keep water voles “plopping” as they dive into water.

Richard Bashford, Big Wild Sleepout organiser, said: “The thousands of people around the country taking part in this year’s Big Wild Sleepout are helping to make this the RSPB’s biggest-ever fundraising event.

“Whether it’s joining family and friends for a sponsored camp in your back garden, visiting an event at your local RSPB reserve, or taking part in one of the more unusual Sleepouts, everyone is doing their bit to help save the UK’s threatened wildlife – and hopefully having a lot of fun at the same time!”

The Big Wild Sleepout starts on 16 June and runs until 22 June. With the Summer solstice taking place on 21 June, people sleeping out that night will have the maximum number of daylight hours to spot wildlife and have fun!

The Big Wild Sleepout is part of our ‘Giving Nature a Home’ campaign, which is aimed at inspiring everyone to do their bit for nature, wherever they live and however big their outside space.

Some of our best loved garden favourites are among the creatures shown to be in serious trouble including starlings, hedgehogs, some butterflies and ladybirds. All are in danger of further declines unless more is done to provide better habitats.

The Big Wild Sleepout is being supported by Blacks, the leading outdoor equipment specialist.

Ken Reeve, CEO of Blacks, says: “Encouraging people – young and old – to get outdoors and experience nature first-hand is something we’re really passionate about at Blacks. That’s why we’re supporting the Big Wild Sleepout for the second year running. I can’t wait to join in!”

For full details of all the Big Wild Sleepout events and to find out how you can get involved, visit rspb.org.uk/sleepout

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