Bucks Free Press chief reporter, Stephanie Wareham, will be joining the annual Wycombe Homeless Connection big sleep out tonight. Here, in her own words, she explains why she will be taking part:

In November last year, nearly 100 people in High Wycombe, Marlow and Beaconsfield defied the bitter wind to raise vital funds for a homelessness charity - and this year, I will be joining them. 

Tonight, while most people will be enjoying a night out or snuggling up on the sofa in the warmth, I will be sleeping outside at All Saints Church in a bid to raise awareness for Wycombe Homeless Connection (WHC). 

The charity works with people who are facing homelessness and do not qualify for council assistance and is a lifeline for those in need. 

While the idea of giving up my home comforts for a night is daunting, I have seen the important work the charity does for those who need them most first hand through the Bucks Free Press - and I could not be happier to support them. 

Last year, I spent an evening chatting to rough sleepers about the harsh realities they face while living on the streets when I visited a weekly WHC activity called PlugIn at the Hub. 

A small but dedicated team of volunteers run the drop-in session at the Union Baptist Church, which gives those sleeping rough a chance to have a hot meal, a shower and wash their clothes one evening a week.

It may seem like a small gesture, but the rough sleepers who used the service could not speak more highly of the work the charity does for them. 

Getting a chance to see behind-the-scenes and actually speaking to those affected by homelessness - instead of just passing them in the street - opened my eyes to exactly how anyone can be affected.

In the last year more than 500 individuals have come to WHC for help having been made homeless due to a variety of issues - from unemployment, bereavement and benefit cuts to addiction and poverty. 

The Big Sleepout will be a chance for me to experience first-hand exactly how rough sleepers feel day in and day out. 

I can’t lie - it will be difficult for me to give up my bed for the night and swap it for a cardboard box and a sleeping bag on the street. 

I am nervous about the experience. It will be cold, uncomfortable and I have no doubt I will be miserable throughout the entire night. 

But I’m lucky - I will have a home with a warm bed and hot food to go once the night is over. Sadly others are not so fortunate. And these are the people who need our help the most. 

I am determined to stick it out. Many rough sleepers have no other choice amid a vicious circle of fear, hopelessness and desperation. 

As the winter approaches, WHC’s work becomes all the more vital. The charity runs an emergency winter night shelter to give those who have nowhere to go a place of safety. A place they can rest for the night without fear of having their belongings stolen or being attacked.

And in my opinion, it is vital we give the charity our full support. Thank you.