A project which gives homeless people in Weymouth and Portland a safe place to sleep during the winter is back.

The Safe Sleep project which sees local churches transform into hostels for rough sleepers started this week, and will be running for 17 weeks until the end of March.

To mark its return, church leaders and charity representatives came together for a sleepover at St Mary’s Church in Weymouth.

The aim of the sleepover was to highlight the Safe Sleep project as well as raise vital funds.

Cherry Clarke of Refresh – The Churches of Weymouth and Portland in Action, said: “We wanted to raise the profile of the project within the community, but also some of us did it as a sponsored event to raise some money.

“I reckon we will have raised around £1,000 between us. This will go either towards the running costs or to help pay the salaries of the various members of staff – professionals from The Lantern Trust or Julian House.”

There were eight people in total taking part in the sleepover – Cherry Clarke, Revd Nick Clarke, Revd Jo Haine, Revd Tom Coopey, Brother Alasdair Kay, Neil Biles, and Mike Graham and Kerry Mellor of The Lantern Trust and Julian House, respectively.

Mrs Clarke said they didn’t get much sleep. She explained: “It was interesting. None of us got much sleep. We were sleeping in the same building as the guests will be doing.

“We wanted to come out in solidarity.

“Some people slept well at the beginning of the night, while others got to sleep at around 5am.”

Mrs Clarke said the project is ready and she will be volunteering by cooking some hot food for the guests.

She said: “We’re as ready as we can be for whoever turns up. We have no idea about the amount of people to expect yet.”

The Safe Sleep project will be at the following churches, in order: St Mary’s Church; St John’s Church; Weymouth Bay Methodist Church; Weymouth Family Church; St Augustine’s Church Hall; Westham Methodist Church Community Centre.

It will take place at each church for a maximum of a week, apart from Westham Methodist Church which will host the guests for three consecutive weeks, and St Augustine’s Church which will host the guests for two consecutive weeks.