Sunderland fans urged to hit the sack for charity

(from left) Centrepoint Regional Manager Diane Cosstick; Hayley, who has received help from the charity; Foundation of Light Business Development Manager  Richard Routledge and Commercial Events Officer Michelle Jones.

(from left) Centrepoint Regional Manager Diane Cosstick; Hayley, who has received help from the charity; Foundation of Light Business Development Manager Richard Routledge and Commercial Events Officer Michelle Jones.

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Black Cats fans are being urged to swap their seat for a sleeping bag.

Sunderland AFC will be holding its annual Sleep Out in aid of youth homeless charity Centrepoint and SAFC charity Foundation of Light at the Stadium of Light on Thursday, November 10.

The event will raise funds for homeless young people in Sunderland as part of a national event in 12 cities across the UK throughout November, with thousands of hardy souls expected to take part.

Centrepoint’s Amy Gormanley said: "Sleep Out is a unique event that everyone should try.

"It would be impossible to replicate the true terror of being forced to spend a night on the streets, but you will feel the cold and experience the discomfort Centrepoint young people have had to endure, simply because they had nowhere else to go.

"Sleep Out is a lot of fun but there’s a serious side to it and the money we raise will help support young people as they tackle the physical and mental health problems caused by homelessness and give them the skills and confidence to find work or return to education."

Centrepoint works with more than 300 homeless young people in the North East, providing accommodation and support to help young people to turn their lives around by gaining essential life skills; tackling their physical and mental health issues and moving into education or employment, while the Foundation of Light works in some of the most deprived wards in the UK throughout the North East, challenging the effects and causes of poverty.

Hayley, 23, joined staff from Centrepoint and Foundation of Light to launch Sleep Out. She became homeless two-and-a-half years ago after the relationship with her family broke down and temporarily lost custody of her son.

"I was 21. We were on top of each other all time and we’d keep arguing and arguing," she said.

!I couldn’t manage with the bairn. It felt horrible. I was put in temporary accommodation and Leo got put into care. I couldn’t cope and had to get mental health involved."

Hayley received support to tackle mental health issues before she and Leo, now three, were reunited. She was put in contact with Centrepoint six months ago and the charity has helped her secure her first home through their Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme.

"I get offered help with anything really, anything I’m struggling with,” said Hayley. "It’s my first house so I didn’t know how to pay a bill, how to set up the gas and electric and how to pay it."

Now Hayley is focused on Leo and trying to find work and had this advice for homeless young people: "Go straight to Centrepoint because they’re the best people to help."

Registration for Sleep Out is now open for participants at £20. To sign up, visit: https://centrepoint.org.uk/sleepout