'SLEEP rough so others don't have to' reads the strapline to a sleep out campaign to help raise awareness and funds for the Southend YMCA.

The Sleep Easy event, to be held on Saturday March 3, is asking you to sign up to join in the countrywide initiative and get your family and friends to sponsor you to sleep out in cardboard boxes in the YMCA car park in Ambleside Drive, Southend, from 7pm – 7am.

Bavard - a teen pop duo from Leigh who regularly work to raise money and awareness for the Southend YMCA - have joined in to help raise the spirits of those sleeping out, and have organised a programme of live music comprising of 12 acts to play from 7:30pm until late.

Acts include Bavard themselves, plus Toni Marie Moore; Emily Rail; Anna-Marie Childs, Caitlin King, Leo Clemenson; Red Kadett; Roisin O'Hagan; Luke Sebastian Sanders; Owen Williams; Cameron Fellows; Sam Cooper; Jack Cooper and Howling Black Soul.

Southend YMCA has hosted Sleep Easy nights since 2011 and has raised over 40k in that time helping over 1000 children and young people by providing supported housing, counselling, mentoring, positive activities and education and training initiatives.

It is hoped that this year’s Sleep Easy will help Southend YMCA to raise even more funds as the numbers of rough sleepers of all ages continues to rise and pressures mount on the housing market.

Southend YMCA’s chief executive, Syrie Cox said: “YMCAs across the country are holding Sleep Easy events at the same time to raise much needed awareness of the plight of rough sleeping amongst young people.

“We know from our experience that without the support we offer, many more young people would be sleeping on the streets and have less options and less chance of realising their potential.

“We are calling on the local community, old and young, to sign up to the YMCA Sleep Easy campaign to help us support young people in our services today and into the future. One night out can make a lifetime difference.”

Sacha Edwards, Southend YMCA's positive activities manager, explained: "The way we raise the money is through sponsorship, so people sign up via southendymca.org.uk/sleepeasy, to take part in the event and ask their friends and family to sponsor them.

People can also make a one off donation via justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/southendymca/ymcasleep2018.

"The Bavard boys who were the winners of our 2017 Community Citizen Award are hosting the music stage and have done a fantastic job of bringing 12 amazing acts together to provide entertainment for those sleeping rough on the night - our headline act is Howling Black Soul. If people want to come and see their favourite band they need to sign up to take part in Sleep Easy... the event is not open for spectators or I'm sure we will be swamped!

"We are also going to have a stall in the Royals on February 21 so that people can sign up.

"Gleneagles Guest House are also supporting the event and are providing bacon and veggie sausage butties in the morning and we have also had a £1,500 donation from Lifespace by Regis."

Sign up to Sleep Easy via southendymca.org.uk/sleepeasy