'Big Sleep Out' to raise money for homeless veterans raises thousands of pounds

More than 40 people took part in the event on Friday night. Credit: Alabaré Homes for Veterans

A "Big Sleep Out" event fundraising to help homeless veterans has raised more than £18,000.

41 people took part, sleeping outdoors overnight, earlier this week in Margam Country Park near Port Talbot as temperatures fell as low as 5°C.

The aim of the charity event is to increase awareness of the number of homeless veterans in Wales, as well as raising money.

Alabaré Homes for Veterans hopes to end homelessness. On its website the charity said: "Too many ex-service personnel are still sleeping rough, sofa surfing or sleeping in cars because they have hit a crisis in their civilian lives."

Participants were also given the chance to meet the people they are helping. Credit: Alabaré Homes for Veterans

Talking to ITV Wales ahead of the Big Sleep Out getting underway, organiser Rebecca Mullen said: "We've invited people to give up their warm, comfy beds for one night and join us at the beautiful Margam Country Park where we're doing a first. People are going to have sleeping bags, a sense of compassion and vital money for our work with homeless veterans."

She added: "We're the largest provider of homes for veterans in Wales and we create a pathway of support for somebody that might be coming off the street and we need to build up their confidence, their dignity, give them opportunities to build skills and experience so they can move forward in their lives."

Many veterans face a lot of challenges when they leave the armed forces.

Melvin Watts from Boots on the Ground, a charity helping veterans, told ITV Wales: "Some veterans when they leave the armed forces may face the breakdown of a relationship, mental health issues, and therefore they unfortunately find themselves on the street."

He added the charity tries to increase veteran's "sense of confidence, their sense of well-being and their sense of self-worth" by taking them to do outdoor activities.

On Saturday morning, those taking part walked to the Margam Abbey War memorial for a moment of reflection on Armistice Day. Credit: Alabaré Homes for Veterans

The event gave people the chance to experience a small part of the ordeal faced by homeless veterans sleeping on the street.

Held overnight on Friday, participants woke up on Saturday and walked to Margam Abbey War memorial for a moment of reflection on Armistice morning.

The charity is hoping to raise £25,000 by December.

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