Dartford residents will have a chance to raise money for young homeless people in the area on Friday – if they can brave the cold.

YMCA Thames Gateway is hosting a Sleep Easy event at Dartford Central Park on the evening of Friday March 16, asking people to sleep outside for the night.

The event runs from 7pm until 7am the next day and will raise money for the organisation’s work to help rough sleepers.

Sara Colenutt, communications manager at the YMCA, said this is the ninth year of the initiative, but the first event of its kind to take place in Dartford Central Park.

She said: “The Mayor will come and launch the event, and then everyone will be given a box to sleep on.”

Participants will be encouraged to decorate their boxes and the most creative design at the end of the night will be given a prize.

Hot drinks and snacks will also be provided throughout the night with breakfast included in the morning.

Although the event will feature light-hearted activities, Ms. Colenutt said: “It is not easy by any means. I have slept out three times and it is tough.”

But she stressed the importance of raising awareness: “Homelessness is on the increase and it is not going away.”

Figures released by homeless charity Shelter in November found that Dartford had the worst rates of homelessness in Kent.

The report found there were nine rough sleepers and a total of 642 homeless people in the town, not including ‘hidden’ homelessness.

Tickets for the event are £10 and can be purchased at the Dartford YMCA website. The YMCA says: “All you need to bring is yourself, a sleeping bag and wear lots of layers!”