Residents camp out to raise awareness for homelessness in Cheltenham
CARDBOARD boxes filled with people sleeping rough appeared in a Cheltenham car park.
But the makeshift beds were filled with politicians and business professionals aiming to raise money and awareness for a homeless project in the town.
More than 20 people turned up on Friday night to support YMCA Cheltenham's Sleep Easy event.
It saw them spending 12 hours trying to get some rest on the concrete at YMCA's Sports and Community Activity Centre in Princess Elizabeth Way in cardboard boxes, provided by Cheltenham firm, Abbey Business Solutions.
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Many stayed throughout the night despite temperatures dipping to just 2C.
Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood was due to attend but had to pull out at the last minute for personal reasons.
David Wallace, CEO of YMCA Cheltenham, said the event had raised £5,000.
He added: "We were delighted with the response that we have had from the community, with people volunteering to sleep out, to help on the night, and to sponsor the event in every way."
Councillor Barbara Driver, (C, Lansdown) spent the night in a box to support the event.
She said: "It was a really great opportunity to raise awareness for the homelessness problem in Cheltenham. We have got a problem in the town with homelessness, and the YMCA does a really important job in helping them."
Also out for the 12-hour stint was Alex McArdle, 29, from Battledown. He added: "It is a cause that's close to my heart and also it was a lot of fun."
Entertainment for the night was provided by Cheltenham's Jazz Trio, whose lead singer Nicole Warfield was keen to play her part.
She said: "We always wanted to be part of it. My colleague at work is on the committee at the YMCA and he asked us to come along. It's a great campaign for people to experience what it's like sleeping rough."