THE plight of homeless people was brought to the fore on Friday night as volunteers braved the wind, rain and snow while sleeping rough in a church car park.

The 11 participants raised £2,000 for YMCA Teesdale as part of the charity's national Sleep Easy Week, which sees branches from across the country experience the harsh realities homeless people face every night.

The group, based in Barnard Castle, had just five weeks to prepare for their first challenge as part of the campaign and the whole community rallied round to offer their support.

The vicar of St Mary's Church, in Newgate, offered up the use of the church car park and hall where volunteers were busy constructing and decorating the cardboard boxes they slept in.

The boxes were supplied by GlaxoSmithKline while North Star Housing donated £250 to the challenge and local businesses Oliver Twists and Spice Island also donated supplies including bread, bacon and even curry to keep the volunteers going.

Town mayor, Sandra Moorhouse, officially opened the event and brought along homemade soup.

YMCA volunteer, Julian Taylor, was praised for his efforts organising the event, which he said was particularly poignant for him following his experience sleeping in his car after he left his wife.

He said: "I have known too many homeless people and when I left my wife, I slept in my car for a couple of nights.

"It's hidden in rural areas because we have so many fields so people just camp out or sofa surf."

The money raised will now be used to support YMCA Teesdale’s services for children and young people.

Rachel Dyne, YMCA Teesdale Operation Director, said there were 3,509 young people who were recognised as homeless in County Durham and all the money raised would be put back into the area.

She said: “We’re thrilled about the success and I’d like to thank everyone who took part and spent the night out with us."

She added: “Thanks to your support we can now help even more young people than before and support them to realise their full potential. One night out can make a lifetime difference.”

To make a donation or volunteer for YMCA Teesdale visit