Councillors sleep rough in Reigate car park for charity's homeless drive (From Redhill And Reigate Life)
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Councillors sleep rough in Reigate car park for charity's homeless drive
10:39am Friday 15th March 2013 in News
Six local councillors were among 30 hardy souls who spent a night sleeping rough in a Reigate car park to highlight the plight of homeless people.
The councillors and members of local churches were among the people who bedded down as best they could in the Reigate Town Hall car park to raise awareness of the problems faced by those with no roof over their heads.
The group were taking part in the SleepEasy event organised by the Reigate and Redhill YMCA.
The charity held the event to raise awareness and funds for its work with the young homeless in the area.
And by roughing it, the group raised a combined £3,769.45 through donations, registration and sponsorship for the cause's John Warrender Fund.
Supported by the YMCA team, the participants had to build their own shelters out of cardboard and then sleep in them in temperatures which reached as low as minus 4 degrees.
Reigate and Banstead mayor Roger Newstead visited the group in the evening to wish them success and offer encouragement and survival tips for staying warm. Coun Newstead said: “This is an issue which is not always perceived to be a problem in a relatively affluent borough such as ours.
“However, we do recognise that there is still more that we can do to help the youth in this area.”
YMCA housing manager Adam Brooks, who works at Hillbrook House, the YMCA’s safe, secure and affordable housing facility, said: “This is a hidden problem.
“Our young people might not always be out on the streets, but too many are sleeping on floors, friends’ couches or in unsuitable Bed and Breakfasts, not knowing where they will be from one night to the next and unable to build their lives.”
The SleepEasy event received support from several local businesses, including Merstham Tandoori, who delivered a late night curry which provided a warming boost before the group bedded down, and McDonalds in Redhill, who donated breakfast baps to sustain the participants after their bitterly cold night.
Mr Brooks said: “It makes you realise how much people do care.”
Reigate MP Crispin Blunt also visited the SleepEasy group at 6.30am to wake them up for breakfast.
Councillors Mark Brunt and Graeme Crome agreed that it had been a very thought-provoking experience.
Coun Crome, whose nine-year-old son donated £1.40 of his pocket money, said: “In the morning, once we had packed up and recycled our cardboard ‘homes’ in the Town Hall bins, we got to go home.
“Many others don’t have that option.” Contributions are still being made to the event and anyone wishing to donate can call the YMCA on 01737 779979 or visit their website at: www.ymcaredhill.com