Will you sleep on the streets of Welwyn Hatfield?

A NEW campaign to raise money and awareness of homelessness is calling on people to find out for themselves the hardships of life on the streets.

The Sleep Easy event has been launched by Central Herts YMCA, encouraging residents to spend a night outdoors in the middle of winter and experience first hand what living without a roof over your head is like.

The event is taking place outside the Galleria, in Hatfield, on Saturday, January 30, and the YMCA is hoping for at least 100 people will take part.

Welwyn Hatfield MP and shadow housing minister Grant Shapps, who last year spent Christmas Eve sleeping rough as part of the launch of the Conservative Homelessness Association, was first to throw his support behind the campaign.

“I think the way we tackle issues such as homelessness are at the heart of a civilised society,” Mr Shapps said.

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“In a civilised society, you don’t leave the most vulnerable people sleeping on the streets.

“Homelessness remains a problem in society. Often it’s not just people sleeping in the streets; it’s the ‘hidden’ homeless too. It’s people in temporary accommodation or ‘sofa surfing’ at friends’ houses.

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“This is a great campaign. What the YMCA are doing is very visual, it will bring this important issue right to the forefront and I’m delighted to be a part of it.”

Georgie Rudman, marketing and communications manager for YMCA Central Herts said: “We are delighted to have Grant’s support as we announce our drive to recruit at least 100 participants from across the community who are willing to spend a night under the stars in the middle of winter.

“With Grant having founded the Conservative Homelessness Foundation, and already having experience of spending a night sleeping rough, the YMCA couldn’t think of a better or more appropriate person to spearhead our recruitment drive.”

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