Sleep Out to Help Out


What is Sleep Out to Help Out (SOTHO)

Pondering over the idea of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme one day, CAMpRA member, Ian Lones, had a sudden inspiration that we could build on the concept with a view to supporting the recovery of our economy whilst demonstrating the huge benefits motorhome tourism could bring to local areas.

At the time, the country was slowly emerging from the first lockdown and we were only permitted to meet at public venues with our own households.  Together with Eddie Yarrow and Tracey Barkwill, Ian organised our first ‘Sleep Out to Help Out’ initiative at The Dyke Neuk, in Morpeth, Northumberland.

The event was a huge success in many ways: two pairs of members were shielding so were able to order food to be delivered to their motorhomes;  the rest were able to eat in the pub restaurant in couples/family groups. A WhatsApp group was created so that members could socialise whilst adhering to the Government guidelines.   In the morning, members breakfasted in the pub and then a socially distanced photo was taken outdoors.

The landlord of the pub gave a very positive report of the group and confirmed that his takings were up significantly as compared to a regular Thursday evening.

Shortly after this, members joined forces with Abbie Silivistris who is the creator of the group ‘Motorhomes and Campervans Against Litter’. Abbie liaised with a café in Staithes, North Yorkshire and arranged a second ‘SOTHO’ which was attended by several of the leadership team and members of the North East Campaign group.

Janet Mason, of the North East Campaign Group, organised a further SOTHO with one night at Hartlepool and one in Durham. During our stay at Hartlepool we were observed, by a local, carrying out a litter pick. He was so impressed, he took photos and posted to his local community Facebook page. From this, a local journalist got in touch and both Motorhomes and Campervans Against Litter and CAMpRA were given some really positive publicity.

Following this, CAMpRA launched a nationwide call to its Facebook members to organise Sleep Out to Help Out initiatives all over the country in 2021 once restrictions were lifted. (see list).  Minor glitches had been ironed out and guidelines for organising a SOTHO were drawn up so that any member could initiate one and, from this point, the idea began to snowball.

Following a lull, during the upsurge of the Omicron variant of Covid, the SOTHO started to happen again in February 2022 with the very successful Royal Quays/Backworth Hall meet.

More are planned so keep an eye out on Facebook.

Planning a SOTHO

If you are interested in arranging or hosting a CAMpRA SOTHO then please contact Tracey Barkwill at to register. Remember that these initiatives are also designed to demonstrate that motorcaravan Aires support local businesses and to remove any negative preconceived ideas about motorcaravan owners.

Read our Guidelines for Planning SOTHO here



February 13th – Royal Quays North Tyneside – Tracey Barkwill

February 14th – Backworth Hall, North Tyneside – Tracey Barkwill


July 2021 – Northumberland Sleep Out to Help Out at Townfoot Farm, Shilbottle – Tracey Barkwill

May 2021 – East Midlands – Tim Pringle

May 2021 – Louth Lincolnshire – Zoe Watson

May 2021 – Tyneside – Tracey Barkwill

May 2021 – Cheviots – Eddie Yarrow

May 2021 – Hartlepool and Durham – Janet Mason

Spotlight on North Tyneside – February 2022

Thanks to all members who participated in the recent North Tyneside Sleep Out to Help Out. We started off at Royal Quays shopping centre, North Shields where 8 motorhomes and campervans (18 people) parked up. Many went shopping in the centre, then met in a cafe/bar for the evening. We had lovely coffees, teas & home made cakes and pastries as well as a selection of locally made beers, wines and food. An added bonus was the bringing out of a guitar and some excellent entertainment by some of the group who are talented players and singers. Two of the party were unable to stay over due to work commitments but 6 motorhomes (12 people) stayed overnight .
The next morning, most of us went shopping and had breakfast at the centre then carried out a litter pick before moving on.
On day 2, those who had to work returned home whilst others enjoyed the surrounding area, meet ing up at Backworth Hall (Miner’s welfare centre and golf club). We were made very welcome there and had a fantastic 3 course Valentine’s meal and drinks before returning to our motorhomes for a very peaceful night’s sleep.
By morning, only 6 of us remained and we visited Backworth Social Club/cafe where we had breakfast before the remaining number had to leave for work. Rosie & Eddie carried out a second litter pick in the grounds.
The group felt the event had been a resounding success in achieving our aims of demonstrating our financial value to the region, in persuading providers to accommodate us and in showing how we leave the area cleaner than we found it.
At Royal Quays, the spend for all 8 units was £484.80
At Backworth Hall, 4 units had a total spend of £291.40
At Backworth Club, 3 units spent £24.00
A further sum was spent by one couple who had made a stop at Saltburn on the way and refuelled etc.
The total spend for the 2 nights in North Tyneside was £800.20.

Spotlight on Hartlepool and Durham –  May 2021

We visited Hartlepool on 4th May. 4 vans stayed overnight on Hartlepool Marina, courtesy of The Old West Quay. We litter picked, with support from Abbie Silivistris (Motorhomes and Campervans against litter), we engaged with many local people, explaining what we were doing, and we identified a number of places on the Marina that would be perfect for an aire. And we spent our money! A total of £223.95 was spent, with over £100 going to The Old West Quay, and the rest went to local shops and cafes, and essential purchases.
We then moved on to The Belmont Travellers Rest, just outside of Durham, where 4 vans stayed overnight.It’s great as an overnighter with meal when travelling north or south as it is just off the A1. More litter picking, which gave rise to a number of conversations with local people about why we were doing it. Other possible sites for aires were identified for contact later. And again we spent our money! £83.75 was spent at the Traveller’s Rest, and £64.65 was spent in shops and cafes in Durham, a total of £148.40.
Overall we contributed £372.35 to two local economies over 2 nights, and we now have more contacts and work to do to promote aires to local communities!

Spotlight on Louth – 2021

We had an excellent SOTHO at the Livestock Market in Louth, Lincolnshire, organised by Zoe Watson. Those who had not visited Louth before loved the proximity of this potential Aire to the town centre and spent accordingly !!! Excellent meal and beer at the Boars Head pub a stone’s throw from the Aire.
Louth is a lovely town with lots of independent shops and beautiful Georgian architecture. And we spent … £108 average per couple/unit, however if we include the new set of tyres one couple had fitted to their ‘van while in Louth our average spend increases to £275 per ‘van.
Also enroute, one couple stayed at a nearby CS site and spent an additional £28 the day before.

As a direct result of this SOTHO, Louth Livestock Market applied for and has been granted an exemption certificate and is now a CAMpRA Accredited Aire.