Local community raises £30,000 to tackle youth homelessness

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Elvis Presley, a Detective Dog and a fire dancer were some of the acts on display during YMCA DownsLink Group’s recent Sleep Easy fundraising event, which has so far raised £30,000.

Over 250 households signed up to sleep ‘anywhere but their bed’ on Friday 9 October, raising money to tackle the root causes of youth homelessness (which include family breakdown, mental health issues and lack of affordable housing).

YMCA DownsLink Group (YMCA DLG) is a charity working to prevent youth homelessness and improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing across Sussex and Surrey, supporting over 10,000 children, young people and families each year.

The charity has been greatly concerned about a steep increase in young people presenting as homeless during the pandemic. Young homeless people often fall into the category of the ‘hidden homeless’ relying on friend’s sofas or floors – something made even more challenging and risky due to covid-19 restrictions.

While the pandemic forced the charity to cancel the original event in March, YMCA DLG was determined for it to go ahead in a reformatted, socially distanced way.

Chas Walker, CEO of YMCA DownsLink Group, continues: “This event has always been an important fundraiser for us, but this year we have found ourselves at a crisis point as we face increasing demand for our youth homelessness prevention services at a time when traditional fundraising streams are drying up. The support we’ve received from our local communities has been incredible, showing our young people that they are not isolated and enabling us to provide vital youth support services.

“Thank you to everyone who took part and stood up for local young people in crisis.”

Participants were able to connect on-the-night with a virtual programme featuring young people sharing their experiences of youth homelessness as well as live sessions from YMCA DLG’s family mediation and mental health youth homelessness prevention teams. The evening also involved an incredibly enthusiastic Elvis Presley, a fire dancer and bedtime stories from Floella Benjamin and Julia Donaldson.

One of the participants Matt shared his thoughts about the event: “Thank you for opening my eyes further to the complexities of youth homelessness. I found it a really meaningful event and hope the money raised goes a long way to supporting homeless young people.”

To make a donation click here https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/YMCADLGSleepEasy

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