A BIG Sleep In event has raised more than £2,000 for the Woking homelessness charity York Road Project.

The coronavirus-compliant version of the YRP Big Sleep Out has also led to a significant increase in items bought through the charity’s Amazon wish-list and dropped off at points set up by Nationwide and Morrisons.

Volunteers who usually sleep out for a night in the town centre spent the time in any room, other than a bedroom, or their garden at their own homes, ideally in a sleeping bag or on a roll mat.

They were all connected online and there were Zoom performances from singer/songwriter Abikanile, siblings Alex and Phoebe from local band The Colour Blind Monks, and a fitness workout in the morning led by Misa, a local fitness instructor.

Beryl Hunwicks, the Mayor of Woking, gave a speech in which she called YRP a “jewel in the borough” with staff and volunteers showing a continued, selfless attitude when supporting local people through dark times in their lives.

One of those taking part included Hazell Dean, a local music star who calls herself the “Queen of Hi-NRG”.

Abikanile performed Another Day, a moving song about homelessness that she wrote for the event.

She said: “We are often caught up in our own personal problems and troubles and forget we are part of a unity and a community.

“I immersed myself in the thought of what it would be like to be homeless and instantly felt an unbearable feeling of fear and hopeless, of being invisible in a crowd, of being lost and lonely. It was terrifying and eye-opening.

“I wanted this song to remind everyone that despite all the hardship and troubles they might be going through, there’s always hope and there’s always another chance to start again.

“Kindness and empathy cost us nothing but have the power to change things for the better.

“York Road Project is a charity that represents exactly that. It provides shelter for the most vulnerable at a time they most need it.”

Stephen Ireland, the YRP community lead, said: “I was blown away by the support of the local community.

“I received a call from one of the team telling me to add more items to our Amazon wish-list as there was such a high demand.

“I was overjoyed by how incredible the local community are. The whole York Road Project team should be exceptionally proud of the work they do and especially when COVID-19 could have significantly impacted our clients, who are often deemed vulnerable.  

“A huge thank you to all the local people with their families and friends, organisations, community and faith groups for their continued support.”

For more information, visit www.yorkroadproject.org.uk.