A husband and wife team will be braving the YMCA sleep-out 2017 to raise vital funds for a charity which 'Burton simply would be a darker place without.'
Bill Pritchard, a former sub-editor on the Burton Mail and his wife, Elaine Pritchard, who owns Caittom Publishing, a freelance writing service provider in Goodwood Close, Stretton, will be sleeping rough for one night to raise funds and awareness for those forced to live on the street.
The event, which takes place across the weekend of Friday, November 10, in Tamworth, and Saturday, November 11 in Burton, will give people the opportunity to find out for themselves what if feels like to be homeless.
People sleeping rough in Tamworth will walk the 14 miles to Burton, camping out either in the tunnels of the Pirelli Stadium, home to Burton Albion Football Club, or in the graveyard at St Modwen's Church, in Burton's Market Place.
This will be the second year that Mr Pritchard has taken part in the event, after being part of last year's record-breaking event which saw 155 people collectively raising £33,602 for the YMCA.
It will be Mrs Pritchard's first taste of sleeping rough and deciding to join her husband to try and raise some much needed funds.
She said: "When I set up my own business seven years ago, I didn't know much about the YMCA, apart from Village People!
"We were invited to the 2016 annual meeting at the YMCA where they launched the sleep-out, which was when Bill decided to do it. He had a great time of it last year, raising awareness and around £500 too.
"It's wonderful the work they do at the YMCA but they do need help. Burton simply would be a different and much darker place without the work that they do.
Having already taken part before, Mr Pritchard has some advice to anyone who will be signing up and joining him in for the sleepout.
He said: "Don't try to force sleep. I didn't sleep at all but a night of putting everyday thoughts far away was just as refreshing – although I went straight to bed for a couple of hours when I got in.
"Take some marker pens to personalise your box and make friends with your neighbours. Take pictures of them and post them on social media, they needn't be of you!
"Maybe people arriving, or stumbling down for a bacon butty after somebody sets off the fire alarm while cooking breakfast.
"Post updates of how you are feeling, random thoughts that come into your head. Remember why you are doing it, think about what you are doing on the following day and keep in mind the people for whom a bed is a dream and sleep-out is the daily reality – rain or shine. Finally, if you are next to me, please don't snore."
What does the YMCA do?
The YMCA is one of the country’s largest charities and helps to support and turn around the lives of the homeless.
On a national scale, they supply 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 every young person should have a safe place to stay and actively look to educate and support people in danger of getting into 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, ranging from gyms and swimming polls 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.
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