For the very first time, YMCA Thames Gateway will come together with 11 other YMCAs across England to take part in a mammoth virtual Sleep Easy event on Friday, 26 March, with the aim of raising vital funds to help tackle the root causes of youth homelessness.

And so, from 7pm on Friday 26 to 7am on Saturday 27 March, hundreds of people across the country will be sleeping anywhere but their beds to raise awareness of the thousands of young people who are made homeless each year, and YMCA Thames Gateway is calling on local residents to join them. 

Money raised from the event will go towards delivering much needed support for residents and homeless young people.  It will also help fund the charity’s community response, which is currently helping vulnerable families locally with essential food and care packages.

In ordinary times, the charity’s annual sleep out would have involved groups and individuals sharing an evening outside and together, and experiencing some of the harsh realities of sleeping rough.  However, due to COVID-19 restrictions and for the safety of participants and staff, the charity will be hosting Sleep Easy 2021 virtually this year.

COVID-19 has not just had an impact on homelessness services but on fundraising as well. Traditionally, an event that brings lots of the community together in one place, this year will see people going solo or with their families and swapping the streets for bathtubs, sofas or garden tents. It is hoped that this special collaborative event will help YMCA Thames Gateway raise more funding than ever.

Dave Ball, Chief Executive of YMCA Thames Gateway, said: “As a year, 2020 was more difficult and heart-breaking than anyone could ever have anticipated, but one overwhelming positive that emerged was the power of community and the difference that can make to people’s lives.  

“We know from our own experience over the past 150 years that without the support offered by YMCA Thames Gateway, many more vulnerable young people would be forced to sleep on the streets, with less options and less chance of realising their potential.

“With this in mind, YMCA Thames Gateway is calling on the community to sleep somewhere other than their beds and help raise a record sum of money for this special Sleep Easy event. Please participate, donate and nominate to spread the word: one night can make a lifetime of difference.” 

YMCA is the largest voluntary sector provider of supported housing for young people in England and Wales, providing a bed for 8,800 people each night and collectively helping more than 20,000 people experiencing homelessness each year.

YMCA Thames Gateway operates across several boroughs including Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Dartford, Greenwich, Bexley and Ashford.  As a local charity, YMCA Thames Gateway has been serving the community for over 150 years. Whilst their focus is on young people, they work with all members of the community in the belief that everyone should be able to reach their full potential, regardless of their background.

Find out more about YMCA Thames Gateway at www.ymcatg.org.

If you would like to make a donation to the charity, visit: https://ymcatg.org/donate/