Torbay residents are being challenged to endure freezing winter temperatures to sleep under the stars to raise money for young homeless people.
Staff at the YMCA South Devon’s newly launched Nightstop service, which provides emergency, temporary accommodation for young people, are hoping that dozens of people will bed down for the night on outdoor tennis courts to raise funds.
Called the Sleep Easy, YMCAs across the country are challenging their local residents to sleep anywhere but their own beds for one night only on Friday, March 11, but most of the efforts locally are being concentrated on a sleep out in Goodrington.
It is hoped that politicians and business leaders will also rise to the challenge, which will mean them forsaking their own beds and the comfort of their own homes for 12 hours to raise sponsorship money.
Nightstop launched in Torbay just before Christmas and has already helped one young person by placing them in a safe, caring environment in the home of trained volunteers until their needs could be assessed.
Before Nightstop started in the Bay, young homeless people aged between 16 and 25 years old were being forced either into bed and breakfasts or found themselves sofa-surfing on friends' couches instead, until a better solution could be found.
Nightstop already runs in 30 towns and cities across the UK, but it is a first for Torbay, where young homelessness has become an urgent and increasingly severe problem.
Maria Goodman, CEO of YMCA South Devon, said: “We are calling on our community to support young homeless people struggling right now, to show them that we care, that we are there for them, and to highlight the overwhelming difference this can make to people’s lives.
“While there is a serious message behind the night, it is also a lot of fun. There is a great atmosphere among those taking part and we also have the chance to raise significant funds for a very worthwhile cause.”
To sign up for the Sleep Easy challenge, log on to www.ymca.org.uk
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