While many of us were tucked up in warm cosy beds, a group of hardy fuundraisers had a night in a cardboard box under the stars to raise awareness of homelessness in the city.
YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough held the first Sleep Easy night on Friday in the Cathedral precincts, with more than 35 people experiencing a night in the open, to find out what it is like to be homeless.
More than £6,000 was raised, with volunteers including Apprentice winner Joseph Valente, city councillors and other residents.
A number of staff from Priestgate based PR agency Athene were those who wrapped up warm in cardboard boxes to take part.
Curtis Doyle, one of the workers, said: “I decided to get involved because it would not only be an interesting and eye-opening experience, but an opportunity to raise money for a worthwhile cause at the same time.
“The event itself really felt like a community coming together – we slept in the cathedral grounds, the local mosque brought chai tea and snacks, local musicians played for us and the Peterborough Soup Kitchen kept us going with soup.
“There wasn’t much sleeping, it was cold and not all that comfortable – but we could get up in the morning and go home. The thought of experiencing that every night, alone, is difficult to get your head around.” Colleague Claire Grant added:” We only had to spend one night sleeping rough, and it really brought home the conditions that people have to survive day in day out.
“The work that the YMCA does is vital to supporting those in crisis and we know that the fantastic amount of money raised will help ensure more people have a roof over their head this winter.”
Sally Booth, another participant at Sleep Easy, said: “YMCA’s Sleep Easy was a life changing experience for me. You can never truly understand how difficult it is being young and homeless, unless you experience even a fraction of what it’s like sleeping out.
“It’s definitely taught me to appreciate the life I have more, because not everyone gets a chance to have a bed at night and that’s not right. I’m more motivated in getting involved with YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough and I’m currently looking into different volunteering and fundraising opportunities.”
Jonathan Martin, YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Chief Executive, said: “Sleep Easy went even better than we expected for our first event. We were delighted with the response and I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who took part and spent the night out with us.
“We hope that everyone left with the key message that made us plan this event, which is to truly experience how difficult it is to endure homelessness.”