THE new vicar of Kirkbymoorside, who has only just moved into his warm vicarage, will find himself sleeping out on the street at the weekend.
Rev Mark Brosnan, who took up his post at the end of January, is joining a group of local volunteers sleeping outdoors to highlight the plight of young homeless people in Ryedale and North Yorkshire.
The fourth annual Kirkbymoorside Sleepout takes place on Saturday in support of SASH, the York-based charity working across North Yorkshire to help homeless people.
The charity finds safe accommodation for young people aged 16 to 24 in the homes of local volunteers while a more permanent home is arranged.
Last year it offered help to 120 young people at risk of homelessness and provided 436 nights of accommodation.
But the charity has seen a surge in demand in the first two months of this year – a 60 per cent increase on the same period last year.
An event which began with a few people sleeping outdoors in a Kirkbymoorside churchyard four years ago is now an annual Sleepout raising thousands of pounds.
In past years participants have slept in cardboard boxes, sleeping bags and in porches in and around the Market Place and All Saints churchyard, sometimes braving sub-zero temperatures to raise funds and show they care.
Growing numbers of the town’s traders are signing up to show their solidarity and sponsor the ‘‘sleepouters’’ who are aged from 10 to over 60, including the local Scout group and two town councillors.
Mr Brosnan said: “The SASH Nightstop project is such an important way of meeting the needs of a vulnerable part of our own community.
“I think this is a great way to both highlight the plight of homeless young people and to raise money to help to fund the project at the same time.”
Organiser Sarah Ware said: “Raising as much funding as possible really matters, but raising awareness and, above all, having the local community joining the event or sponsoring it, shows to those experiencing homelessness in our area that their neighbours really care.”
In three years the Kirby’ sleepouters have raised almost £6,000 and this year they are having the backing of Barclays Bank in Ryedale.
James Young from the local branch said: “I wasn’t aware that homelessness was an issue in Ryedale until I was asked to sponsor the sleepout.
“I hope that taking part this year will make a real difference and raise much needed awareness and funds for this fantastic charity.”
He will be joined on the streets by the branch’s manager and assistant manager and the bank has pledged to match their sponsorship.
All supporters are invited to join the sleepouters for breakfast butties at the Dug Out from 7am on the Sunday morning.
For the first time this year, there will also be a SASH York Sleepout inspired by the Kirbymoorside event in the grounds of York Minster on Tuesday March 13.
People wishing to support the brave Kirkbymoorside sleepouters can fund their efforts or take part by contacting Sarah Ware on 01751 430734 or email@example.com.