YOUNG people spent a night under the stars to raise awareness of youth homelessness.

Residents from Tees Valley YMCA, together with support workers and other volunteers, slept in St Cuthbert’s churchyard, in Darlington, on Friday (March 21).

The group of around 25 volunteers slept in cardboard shelters and helped raise more than £2,500 through sponsorship towards the work of the Tees Valley YMCA, which provides supported accommodation for 31 young people.

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The location of St Cuthbert's churchyard is particularly poignant as homeless man, George Akers, was killed there by two youths in 2010.

Steve Shelton, a YMCA support worker, said: “It was a really good night, and thankfully it didn’t rain.

“We had a fire going in a brazier and spent a lot of the night sitting around it, chatting and toasting marshmallows.

“We also had a few members of the public join us for some of the night, and the odd drunk person.

“It was quite windy, but the cardboard boxes stayed put.”

Mr Shelton also thanked those who supported the group, including Wrights Office Supplies and Sainsbury’s.

The group left at 7am and the site was cleared by Darlington Borough Council’s Street Scene team.

The Sleep Easy event takes place every year.

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