Ripon residents will sleep out on the Market Square next month to powerfully represent the scale of hidden homelessness in the city.
The event on March 10 aims to raise vital funds and awareness for Ripon YMCA, who have organised the sleep out as part of a national Sleep Easy Week, where hundreds of people are expected to take part in similar events across the country to support local YMCA charities.
Instead of sleeping out on the streets in shop doorways and in sleeping bags, residents taking part will be using tents, sofas, cars and even a shed to widen people's perceptions of what homelessness is, and show the depth of the issue among young people in Ripon, even if it is not immediately visible.
The Chief Executive of Ripon YMCA, Lucy Gratton, said: “Local homelessness in young people is often hidden, we rarely see people sleeping in shop doorways or using cardboard shelters, but we know from our experience that overcrowded housing and family relationship breakdown is leading to young people using tents or cars to sleep in”.
“We know that many young people stay with friends and will sleep on the sofa for weeks or months before they seek support.
"People might think that homelessness isn't a problem in Ripon, but it is all around us and closer than you think. Anyone can be affected by homelessness at any time.
"Young people need a safe and secure place that they can call home. So we are calling on the local community to sign up to the Sleep Easy event to help us support young people in our services today and into the future. One night out can make a lifetime difference.”
Ripon YMCA provides support for 16 to 35 year olds who are homeless or are at risk of being homeless. The charity also has community spaces available for Ripon groups, clubs and projects.
To register for the Sleep Easy event with Ripon YMCA, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01765 607 609, or visit www.riponymca.org/sleep-easy for more details. Registration closes on February 28.
Everyone taking part will meet at Ripon YMCA for a meal and briefing before heading out to the Market Square. There will also be games and activities, and the Ripon YMCA team will be sharing information about the work they do, and how they've supported young people in Ripon over a lengthy history of more than 100 years.