Council pair quit Romford YMCA event for the homeless

YMCA have their annual sleepout challenge. Staff and people at the YMCA sleep out in the courtyard o

YMCA have their annual sleepout challenge. Staff and people at the YMCA sleep out in the courtyard of the YMCA to raise awareness of the amount of young people who sleep rough. MP Andrew Rosindell sits with the staff who are sleeping rough. - Credit: Archant

Two councillors walked out of a homeless charity’s event when it started to rain.

Cllr Ray Morgan (RA, Hacton) and Rebecca Bennett (Con, South Hornchurch) have been criticised for pulling out of the YMCA’s Sleep Easy challenge halfway into the event last week in Rush Green Road.

A worker for the YMCA, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I didn’t know what to make of it, they just got up and walked out and said that they couldn’t stay.”

The two councillors were among 15 people sleeping outside on the YMCA’s tennis court on Friday to raise awareness of homelessness.

Cllr Sandra Binion (Con, Havering Park) who is receieving treatment for her second bout of cancer was also taking part but says that she had promised her family that she would leave if it rained. She and Cllr Bennett raised £200 for the YMCA.

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The group, who had sleeping bags and cardboard boxes, started bedding down for the night at 7pm.

When it started raining at 2.45am, Cllr Binion said that she had to leave because of personal problems but the rest of the fundraisers were stunned when the other councillors also followed her out and didn’t return.

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Cllr Morgan, who donated £25, said that there was no point getting cold for the homeless.

He said: “I was disappointed that I couldn’t stay but my sleeping bag was damp. I didn’t think there was any point in freezing and potentially getting a cough for the homeless.”

He added: “I cannot precisely remember the time but we did our time.

“I wanted to stay, it was just the rain.”

Cllr Bennett has not responded to the Recorder’s request for a comment.

The annual event raises money so the YMCA can continue its homeless project for young people.

Cllr Binion said that she was disappointed that she had to leave early.

She said: “I did not like the fact that I left early but I had to be fair to my family and I promised them that I would leave if it started to rain.

“I have done a lot of work for homeless charities.

“There is no point in doing it half-heartedly so I really wanted to get the full experience of what it is like to sleep rough.

“But I have made a promise that I will do it next year and I will stay right to the end.”

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