3 February 2022

There’s nowhere quite as safe, secure and comforting as your own cosy bed on a cold night.

But imagine if that wasn’t an option for you and you had to make the choice between grabbing snatches of sleep on public transport or spending the night on a friend’s floor.

YMCA East Surrey’s annual Sleep Easy event, which raises funds to support local young people who have experienced homelessness, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Challenging those taking part to sleep rough for just one night so that others don’t have to, the event will be held on Friday 11 March at Reigate Town Hall and is open to all.

The COVID-19 pandemic has sadly added to the challenges of those without secure housing, and statistics show that homelessness cases are on the increase.

Many young people are experiencing issues such as domestic abuse, leaving care, family breakdown or mental health issues. As a result, they become homeless because it’s safer to leave home than stay and they simply have nowhere to go.

Lee Fabry is YMCA East Surrey’s Head of Housing. He says:

“The young people who come to us have a high need for housing support. We address many mental health issues, helping them to explore their feelings and different ways of coping, discuss positive and negative friendships, and provide one-to-one and group sessions that make a real difference to a young person who doesn’t have support from other adults in their life.”

In 2021, 8303 hours of support were provided by the YMCA housing team to residents.

All funds raised from the YMCA Sleep Easy event will go towards our Employment Support Fund, which provides financial support to help young residents access employment, education or training.

Anyone aged 16 or over can join YMCA East Surrey to sleep out overnight on Friday 11 March, braving the elements with a fantastic group of like-minded people.

Another alternative is to ask friends to sponsor you to give up your bed for one night and swap it for your sofa or floor to support young people who do not have a secure place to sleep. This virtual option is perfect for families with children under 16, community groups or schools.

Companies or individuals can also ‘Sponsor a Box’ for £100. The box will be used by one of the Sleep Easy participants on the night.

“If you can’t participate in person, please consider making a donation,” says Lee Fabry. “Hearing some of the stories of the young people who access our housing service can be truly heart-breaking. They just want to feel safe and build a life for themselves – shouldn’t every human have that opportunity?”

Find out more about Sleep Easy, how to enter or how to donate