VIDEO AND GALLERY: Stevenage YMCA Sleep Easy

DOZENS of people braved the cold and slept out rough in a car park on Friday, to raise awareness of homelessness in Comet country.

The Comet’s Charity of the Year, YMCA Central Herts, asked people to sleep for a night under the stars in Poplars Sainsbury’s, Stevenage.

Upon arrival, the 60 participants were provided with cardboard boxes and tape to create their own sleeping constructions.

Stevenage deputy mayor John Lloyd and wife Joan judged the best boxes, and crowned Kelly-Anne Barkley’s the best sleeping structure, with Carla Judge and Stacey Lawrence winning the award for best decorated box.

There was also games from the youth team, and a zumba session by Karen Bedford put on for participants.

Joanna Hussain, community fundraiser for YMCA Central Herts, said: “We received great feedback, with people telling us they had found a new found respect for people who find themselves living on the streets.

“They all realised they had the chance to prepare for the night ahead and then a warm bed in the morning to climb into after the event, but a homeless person doesn’t.”

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Those that took part included Comet reporter Laura Burge, staff at Halifax bank and members of the Herts Probation Service.

Including pledges, YMCA Central Herts has raised �18,000, with money still rolling in. It will go towards vital services such as YMCA Space Stevenage youth and community centre and the YMCA hostel running.

Those who weren’t able to sleep out showed their support in other ways. Christine Novelli, space development manager for YMCA Central Hers, wore her pyjamas to work all week, raising �200.

The two YMCA day nurseries also had a pyjama day and read stories with their favourite teddies in cardboard dens.

• Click on the link in the top right-hand corner to view our gallery of pictures. You can also view the video of the zumba session.