A record-breaking 188 people slept rough for one night in Burton to raise money and awareness of the plight of homeless people - who have to do it every night. The fund-raisers were taking part in the annual YMCA sleep-out event in the town.

They were split between 173 people sleeping in the cold, stone tunnels of the Pirelli Stadium, home of Burton Albion Football Club, while the remaining 15 tackled the 'extreme' option of taking on the elements under the night sky in the graveyard of St Modwen’s Church, in Burton’s Market Place.

The sleep-out event, which took place last night Saturday, November 11, in Burton gave people the opportunity to discover for themselves the harsh reality of being homeless and having to sleep rough in the cold.

This year, the 188 volunteers smashed the 2016 total of 155 people, making for the highest number ever to taker part in the event's nine-year history.

It was announced last night, once all 173 volunteers had signed up and set up their beds for the night, mostly consisting of a cardboard box, bubble wrap and a sleeping bag, that £28,762, with gift aid, had been raised.

But, chief executive of the Burton YMCA, Paul Laffey said that this figure would most likely be drastically different to the final fund-raising sum, as many people go on to donate to the volunteer’s individual fund-raising websites, all boosting the figure.

Mr Laffey said: "Every year it is so inspiring having a walk around and speaking with the young people and children who are taking part, as well as the business people and everyone else.

"Hearing and seeing what inspires them to take part and volunteer is just great to see."

Selfless volunteers made their way to the Pirelli Stadium at around 9.30pm last night to register and collect their 'beds' for the night.

Three of the Pirelli's stands were opened at the home of the Brewers to accommodate the incredible number of people taking part.

Food was provided on the night, in the form of a soup kitchen, bacon sandwiches in the morning and even Subway sandwiches, kindly donated by workers from the three sandwich shops in Burton.

Subway has been a long term support of the Burton YMCA, setting up a 'suspended subs' programme where people can buy a sandwich for a rough sleeper along with their own sandwich.

Burton Albion football club youngsters sign up to the YMCA sleep-out in Burton

This year, a group of workers from the three stores volunteered and also slept rough during the event, bringing along with them the six foot sandwich and two trays of cookies.

Other people sleeping rough included the Mayor of East Staffordshire, Councillor Simon Gaskin and his wife, Jane, the deputy police crime commissioner, Sue Arnold and taking part in his ninth straight event, MP for Burton, Andrew Griffiths.

Paula Senior, the fund-raising officer of the YMCA in Burton said on the night that after all of the work that went into planning the event, that all the money raised for a good cause made it worthwhile.

She said: "We've had weeks and weeks, maybe even months of planning, talking to people, talking about raising awareness for homelessness, support services and at tonight's sleep-out we are so happy that so many people are with us.

Four-year-old Effie Bowman was the youngest ever volunteer
Four-year-old Effie Bowman was the youngest ever volunteer

"The target tonight that we want to raise is £35,000, it's a lot of money! That will be used for our vital support services, where the main role is helping the homelessness, a lot of prevention, we also offer breakfast services. It will be used towards the night shelter. Every single penny that we make is going back into the services.

"Obviously the last couple of weeks have been tense, lots of planning, lots of preparation, but we’ve had a lot of support from local businesses. We're really grateful for everyone helping out, absolutely loads of work has gone into this, but tonight’s the night and I hope we have a fantastic night and really enjoy ourselves."

There was a catchy sing-along before everyone settled down to try to get some sleep on the night, including What’s Up, by 4 Non Blondes, Son of a preacher man, by Dusty Springfield and Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.

People, both young and old took part in the event, with the previous record of six years old for being the youngest volunteer being beaten by Effie Bowman, who is only four.

YMCA's Paul Laffey applauds volunteers taking part in sleep-out as he gears up for his ninth event

Young Effie, from Castle Gresley, took part in the event alongside her mother, Donna Reid and received a special thanks during the opening welcome, as it was the youngster's second fund-raising event this year for the YMCA.

In August, plucky Effie captured the hearts of Burton Mail readers when she took on a triathlon to raise money for charity.

She swam, ran and cycled her way through a four-mile bike ride, a 200-metre run and a 50-metre swim to raise £1,100; half of which was handed to the YMCA in Burton to help those in need.

Another youngster joining Effie in sleeping rough for a good cause was Magnus Woods, who was there alongside his father, Steve Woods and the pair spoke of their excitement of taking part in what was their first ever sleep-out event.

Volunteers slept in a cardboard box for the night, like the one pictured
Volunteers slept in a cardboard box for the night, like the one pictured

Mr Woods said: "Yeah, we're excited, but not really sure what to expect as it’s our first year taking part. I got to know Paula through a group and was shown round the Reconnect Centre to see the work they do.

"I don't think we can really appreciate what these people on the street go through every night, so it's good to try and help out."

His son Magnus, added that he hoped the temperature would not drop too low on the night: "I just don’t want to get cold or wet!"

Volunteers were woken up bright and early today, Sunday, November 12, to head back home to their comfortable beds - with thoughts then turning to those who aren’t as lucky to have somewhere warm to stay at the end of a cold night.

Burton husband and wife team sign up for the YMCA sleep-out 2017

What does the YMCA do?

The YMCA is one of the country's largest charities. It helps to support and turn around the lives of those who find themselves homeless.

On a national scale, the charity supplies more than 9,100 beds for those who have fallen on hard times, and have found themselves on the streets, without a home.

The charity says it firmly believes that every young person should have a safe place to stay and actively looks to educate and support those who are in danger of getting in trouble.

Not only does the charity attempt to keep young people off the streets, but it also tries to give as much help and guidance as possible to educate those who they come across.

The YMCA has been credited as the largest voluntary sector provider of services in England and Wales which promotes health and wellbeing services.

It provides more than 270 health and wellbeing facilities, ranging from gyms and swimming pools to community halls and outdoor activity centres.

According to the charity, it supports more than 230,000 children and parents each year across the country by delivering a number of family services including relationship services and nurseries.