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Bid to highlight plight of homeless

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: October 06, 2012

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THE YMCA is encouraging people to sleep rough to raise money and awareness for the homeless.

The event, named Sleep Easy, is due to take place on Friday, October 19, in the city centre. The event's organiser Sophie Hodge said: "The idea is to get people from youth groups across Exeter together to appreciate the challenges homeless people face.

"We're expecting around 50 to 60 people from around the city. They will be arriving from around 8pm Friday and staying till 7am on Saturday."

The YMCA supports young people who have found themselves homeless for a number of different reasons, including those sofa surfing, staying at B&Bs or sleeping on the street.

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Organisers are hoping the event will raise more than £1,000 for the cause as well as giving young people an insight into the lives of the homeless.

Sophie said: "We'll be running games throughout the night as well as having talks from some of our residents who have experienced homelessness. A lot of the residents are a similar age to the guys attending the event, so they will be able to relate."

Exeter YMCA provides 15,000 nights of sleep in safe accommodation a year, giving people a place to stay and extra support.

Residents are given help to apply for jobseekers' allowance, advice on how to manage their money and provided with counselling to help them deal with their issues.

The YMCA runs a job club three times a week to help members put together a CV, write letters and teaches them basic skills in maths and English.

Sophie said: "We provide bacon butties and coffee during the mornings. We try to work on encouraging young people to raise their aspirations and confidence. For some, just picking up the phone to ask for an application form is scary."

In the past year Exeter's YMCA has trained more than 300 people through its job club, and half are now back in work, education or training.

Any youth groups from around Exeter can get involved in the event, and any sponsorship raised will go directly to funding the YMCA's projects. For more information and to register go to www.ex eterymca.org.uk/events/sleep easy/sleep

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