VULNERABLE young people will get a new home in Westcliff thanks to help from volunteers who slept rough in temperatures of -4C.
Southend YMCA can convert former offices in Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff, into flats for young people at risk of homelessness after raising more than £321,000.
Fundraising started with a sponsored sleep-out at the charity’s Southchurch offices in March last year.
After seeing the Sleep Easy event, which raised £10,000 in sponsorship, in the Echo two local charities donated another £11,000 and the Government injected £300,000, allowing the YMCA to snap up offices above the Samaritans’ charity shop.
Chief executive Syrie Cox said: “I’m hoping people who slept out in the first Sleep Easy will be pleased, as from little acorns great oak trees can grow.”
Leigh charity Serving the Homeless and the Rosca Trust, a charity which supports charities from Southend, Castle Point and Rochford that help the young, elderly and disabled, donated £6,000 and £5,000 respectively after seeing 65 people, including two Echo reporters, sleep in the YMCA car park in Ambleside Drive with only sleeping bags and cardboard boxes as bedding.
The charity will use about half the total to redevelop the offices as shared flats for four young people. A mews behind the property could be turned into another bedsit.
It opted for empty offices in a deliberate bid to increase the amount of housing available.
Southend Council has allowed the conversion and volunteers will begin transforming the property later this year. The charity, which already has 30 flats in Ambleside Drive, hopes the new homes will give independence to young people without the strong tenancy record some private landlords demand.
It plans to use the remaining cash, plus almost £15,000 raised by the 100 people who took part in the second Sleep Easy this March, to buy more properties.