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DJs join Belfast sleep out aimed at combating youth homelessness

DJ Phil Kieran, MACS chief executive officer Mary Ryan and television presenter Joe Lindsay get some practice in for next month's sleep out

BROADCASTER Joe Lindsay and DJs David Holmes and Phil Kieran are among those tee'd up to take part in a sleep out aimed at tackling homelessness among young people next month.

The End Youth Homelessness Belfast Sleep Out 2018, organised by Northern Ireland charity MACS, is taking place on November 15 at South 13 in the city's Boucher Road area.

“The sleep out doesn’t replicate homelessness but it will give participants a glimpse into how it might feel to sleep rough, or how hard it is to function the next day if you haven’t had access to home comforts," MACS CEO Mary Ryan says. “It’ll give an insight into how hard it is for young people to deal with the chaos of being homeless while trying to stay in education, work and to maintain relationships.”

However, Mary was keen to stress that the sleep out – being held in the north for the first time this year – is “not all hard work". End Youth Homelessness sleep outs held in Britain "are notorious for their sense of fun and camaraderie”, she says.

“We’d like to thank Square Pit Productions who have kindly donated their S13 venue as an extension of their community outreach programme; Hatch Belfast who are providing catering and Belfast-based charity ACSONI, who are providing a 'drum circle'."

She adds: “We also have some very special entertainment and guests lined up for the night.”

Mary says that in the north "only a handful of young people are visibly sleeping on the streets, the majority are in temporary accommodation or sofa surfing while some homeless non-UK Nationals remain completely hidden".

According to MACS, the Northern Ireland Audit Office has noted a rise in homelessness of 32 per cent over the past five years and Mary says the charity is "seeing more and more young people referred to us as homeless or at risk of becoming homeless”.

Registration for the Sleep Out costs £20 and participants are asked to raise a minimum £100. You can register as an individual, company or a group at https://www.macsni.org/events/end-youth-homelessness-sleep-out/ or https://www.eyh.org.uk/en/sleep-out/.  For info email events@macsni.org or call MACS on 028 9031 3163.

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