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intu Merry Hill shoppers invited to sleep rough to raise awareness of homelessness

intu Merry Hill is to host its third annual YMCA sleep-out event on Friday 6th March to raise awareness of homelessness in the community

intu Merry Hill is to host its third annual YMCA sleep-out event on Friday 6th March to raise awareness of rough sleeping and homelessness in the community.

The sleep out will start at 7pm on Friday 6th and run until 7am the next day, taking place on the middle level of the purple multi-story car park.

Amongst those braving the cold on the night will include special guests such as the Councillor and Mayor of Dudley David Stanley, Councillor Anne Millward, Labour MP for Birmingham and Hodge Hill Liam Byrne, BBC presenter Jay Blades and actor Natalie Cutler.

On the night, participants will be provided with cardboard boxes and are encouraged to bring a blanket or sleeping bag, as well as wearing lots of layers to keep warm. Food and drink will be supplied along with some activities to keep everyone’s spirits up throughout the winter night.

The money raised will go towards YMCA’s Moving Forward Fund, which will support people who have previously been homeless and are looking to rebuild their lives.

Duncan Burns, marketing manager at intu Merry Hill, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with YMCA for the third consecutive year, who continue to make an incredibly positive impact in helping support those in our community who have been impacted by homelessness.”

Sally Cowan, chief operations officer for housing at YMCA, said: “Homelessness is often misunderstood – people lose their homes for a variety of different and unpredictable reasons. Rising pressure from high rents and low pay, or just sudden and uncontrollable life events can quickly force people out onto the streets.

“The messages the public receive about homelessness often reinforce negative stereotypes. We hope the Sleep Easy event at intu Merry Hill will help people to understand the extreme difficulties faced by those sleeping rough and the circumstances that lead to them becoming homeless in the first place.”

YMCA’s Sleep Easy initiative has brought more than 7,000 people together to raise more than £1.5million since its launch in 2010, raising awareness of homelessness and helping young people rebuild their lives.

If you would like to participate in the event or donate, then please register online here.