A night on the streets lies ahead for two teenagers who want to highlight the issue of youth homelessness in North Yorkshire.
Josh Gibson and Emily Thomas will swap their comfy beds for the hard pavements and natural elements of Kirkbymoorside for the annual Safe and Sound Homes (SASH) Sleepout later this month – and are calling on other people of all ages to join them.
In the past five years, volunteers, residents and local traders, have raised £15,000 for SASH and inspired similar events across the region.
The charity helps vulnerable 16-24 year-olds in Ryedale and across North Yorkshire who are suddenly made homeless.
Through the Nightstop scheme, SASH volunteers offer a young person facing homelessness a bed for the night, an evening meal and breakfast the next day.
Emily and Josh, who both go to Ryedale School, first got involved in the Sleepouts through their local Scouts group.
“One of the local Nightstop hosts came to talk about homelessness and how we could do something to help,” said Emily, 13. “I’d not really thought about it before, because we don’t see people sleeping rough on our streets. They explained that it is a hidden problem, and I learned about ‘sofa surfing’ and some of the difficulties these young people face in their lives, which made me want to get involved.”
Josh, 15, who is getting his Explorer troupe involved this year, added: “The Sleepouts are a good way of raising awareness and fundraising.
“Last time it was really wet and cold, but that hasn’t put me off. I’m lucky because I can go home to a hot shower and my comfy bed. Homeless people aren’t so lucky, which is where SASH can help.”
The Kirkbymoorside Sleepout will see supporters of all ages sleeping overnight in All Saints churchyard and in the town centre on Saturday, March 15, from 10pm, with sleeping bags, cardboard and plastic for protection.
The Sleepout is open to anyone who is fit and healthy and wants to help, but under-17s must be accompanied by a responsible adult. To sign up, call (01904) 652043.