VOLUNTEERS slept rough on an Atherton street on Saturday night to help a shelter to accommodate homeless people this winter.

A group of 42 people took part in the challenge outside The Snug coffee house on Market Street from 8pm through to 5am on Sunday to support The Atherton and Leigh Shelter for HoPe, who plan to open from January to April with a base yet to be confirmed.

Last year, a group of 40 braved the cold to raise more than £7,000 for the registered charity.

If the shelter is able to find a new home, it will be the fourth year it has been running with the organisation operating at Etherstone Street in Leigh last winter. 

Team leader of the shelter Warren Done said: "It was a very wet and cold night and everyone was soaked through to the skin.

"We were fortunate to get in a house and a bed so how they feel on a regular basis.

"I think the death of Chris Conlin last week highlighted the fact that homelessness in our area is getting worse.

"It was a very wet and cold night and everyone was soaked through to the skin.

"We were fortunate to go to our homes and have a shower after sleeping out so it must be awful for homeless people who wake up after putting up with similar conditions on a regular basis.

"It was quite late last year that we secured a venue, and I hope this event will help us to raise awareness of this issue and lead to people getting in touch with us to help us to find a new one.

"I would also like to thank The Snug coffee house for allowing us to camp outside again."

There has been around £3,500 raised from the challenge so far with cash sponsors yet to be added to the group's fundraising page.

Warren is also manager of Atherton and Leigh Foodbank and has been alarmed by the latest increase in figures of food supplies the organisation has provided to people.

From April 1 to September 30, there has been a 10 per cent increase in the number of three-day emergency supplies with the number shooting up 1,902 to 2,086 from the previous six-month period.

A total of 683 supplies were given to children. 

Like other foodbanks in areas where the new Universal Credit benefit system has been introduced, Warren believes the waiting period, which can last more than six weeks, has contributed to the increase in supplies being handed out to people.  

He added: “It is really worrying that we are still seeing an increase in need for emergency food across the Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley area.

“Every week people are referred to us after something unavoidable - like illness, a delayed benefit payment or an unexpected bill - means there is no money for food. 

"It is only with local people’s help that we are able to provide vital support when it matters most, and while we hope one day there will be no need for our work, until that day comes we will be working hard to help prevent people going hungry. 

"Thank you so much to everyone who already donates time, food and money to help local people."

The Atherton and Leigh Shelter for HoPe and Atherton and Leigh Foodbank are both looking for volunteers to join their groups.

To contact the shelter visit http://bit.ly/2AywRDz or the foodbank at http://bit.ly/2AywRDz.

To make a donation to the Sponsored sleep out for HoPe 2017 challenge visit http://bit.ly/2AywRDz.