VIDEO: Dozens sleep rough at Doncaster’s Lakeside Village for charity

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Mention a Friday night on the tiles and you’ll probably be thinking of living it up round town over a few drinks with your mates.

But for more than 100 hardy souls, a trip to Doncaster’s Lakeside Village shopping complex meant literally that – as people of all ages bedded down with just a few pieces of cardboard and sleeping bags to highlight the issue of young homeless people and runaways sleeping rough in South Yorkshire.

(l-r) Matthew Bradley, 10, Joe Smith, nine, Ben Smith, 11, Ben Higginbottom, 10, and Sam Higginbottom, all of Bessacarr are in their sleeping bags at the big sleepout at Doncaster Lakeside. Picture: Andrew Roe

(l-r) Matthew Bradley, 10, Joe Smith, nine, Ben Smith, 11, Ben Higginbottom, 10, and Sam Higginbottom, all of Bessacarr are in their sleeping bags at the big sleepout at Doncaster Lakeside. Picture: Andrew Roe

Organised by children and young people’s charity Safe@Last, The Big Sleepout attracted everyone from youngsters to pensioners to rough it for one night only in shop doorways and help raise cash for the organisation which helps more than 4,000 young runaways in the county each year.

The event, now in its fourth year, attracted record numbers.

Tracy Haycox, of Safe@Last, said: “I am grateful to each and every person that gave up their comfy bed. To have the most people taking part ever is absolutely fantastic.

“Some young people sleep rough when they have run away from home or been thrown out because they feel that they have no other option. No child should sleep rough and I’m proud that in South Yorkshire Safe@Last works hard to ensure that young people do have another choice.”

Among those braving the chills and an uncomfortable night’s sleep were Bessacarr mother and son Louise and Rio Allen who bedded down with only their sleeping bags and cups of hot chocolate.

Louise said: “This is the first one we’ve done and its exciting but we’re a bit nervous at the same time. It is a bit of fun, but there is a serious message at the same time.

“I am really proud of Rio because he knows exactly what he is doing this for and understands the problem that he is lucky and that not all children have a roof over their heads.”

Rhoslyl Lyons, 12, of Dinnington said: “We wanted to do this to raise money, so other people don’t have to sleep out on the streets.”

Most of the participants endured an early start the next day, waking shortly after 5am so the shopping mall could be returned to normal for shops to re-open.