Sixteen people gave up the comfort of their beds and slept out under the stars in the grounds of Horsham YMCA Football Club to support young people at risk of homelessness.
It was part of YMCA DownsLink Group’s (YMCA DLG) annual Sleep Easy event which saw around 200 people across Sussex and Surrey sleep outdoors on Friday March 22 to raise funds and awareness of the charity’s work.
YMCA Horsham’s Andy Ide said:“ We are all aware that homelessness is increasing, with young people increasingly becoming the ‘hidden homeless’ who are insecurely housed and not sure where they will be night after night.
“An event like this does not replicate homelessness but does bring sharply into focus the luxuries many of us take for granted.
“The money raised by YMCA Sleep Easy will make a huge difference to the young vulnerable and homeless people we work with.
“We are so thankful for all those who slept out and supported the event, especially Horsham YMCA Football Club for letting us use their facilities – we have an amazing community here in Horsham.”
Sleep Easy took place in five locations across YMCA DLG’s area, including at the football ground in Gorings Mead, and to date it has raised more than £42,000.
Among those taking part was Ian who was homeless himself 20 years ago.
He said: “A reminder of my time living on the streets.
“It reminded me how difficult being homeless was for 18 months and for us all to work harder at getting people off the streets in such an affluent first world country.”
Many echoed his thoughts. Wendy added: “It was certainly an experience I will never forget.
“For one night only it’s manageable and we were fortunate with the weather.
“Although it was cold it wasn’t as cold as it has been, also being dry helped. It certainly makes you realise how uncomfortable and lonely it would be without a group or organisation.
“Being able to go home the next day to shower, change and sleep is something the homeless don’t have the luxury to do. It was humbling.”
Donations can still be made online at bit.ly/SleepEasy19