SHOPPING centre bosses will sleep under the stars to raise money for homeless youngsters.
A team from The Bridges will camp out on the top floor of the centre’s car park to raise money for Sunderland’s YMCA.
They will be joined by workers from YMCAs in Toward Road and Chester-le-Street, along with dedicated volunteers.
The event, on March 2, is part of national campaign Sleep Easy.
It is the second time Sunderland has taken part in the fund-raiser, which has been running for four years.
YMCA worker Leesa Lee helped organise the event in Sunderland, which last year raised £1,500.
The charity’s development manager said: “We have a decorate the box competition, as some people sleep in boxes.
“Other people sleep in sleeping bags and some have pop-up tents.
“Participants usually get sponsored and can register with Sunderland YMCA.
“They don’t even have to register as long as they get in touch with me before hand.”
She added: “It is to help raise awareness of the work the YMCA does, which includes support and education of homeless young people.”
Sleep Easy aims to raise money for YMCA centres, which only receive Government funding for accommodation.
Leesa believes youth homelessness is a hidden issue.
She said: “It’s a unseen problem because people are sofa surfing or sleeping on friends’ floors.
“They are not homeless in the traditional view as in people sleeping on the street, though there are a few.”
She added: “Generally people see homeless young people are tramps and smelling of alcohol, and that is not the case.
“We house 84 people in Sunderland – 28 in floating accommodation, shared housing in the community, 32 in Chester-le-Street and 24 in Toward Road.”