Four people braved the cold to sleep rough in central Milton Keynes on Saturday night, raising money for the YMCA, which is set to lose all its state funding next year.
The sponsored sleepout, from 8pm to 8am, was led by Woburn resident Trish Turner, aged 26.
Trish said: “We started outside the train station. We met a lovely young homeless man who spent a lot of time with us. We were then approached by some lovely people from church who spend their Saturday nights delivering food to the homeless.
“We then moved on to The Hub with the young man, who met up with three other homeless people. We spent quite a while with them and they told us all about their lives.
“They were the loveliest of people. They told us to follow them to the Theatre District after they had packed up their ‘home’ into a trolley. It was such a sad moment – everything they had fitted inside this trolley. It broke my heart.
“We then set up for the night outside an old nightclub for a bit of shelter. The real homeless people gave us their sleeping bags!
“They offered to buy us food with the money people had given them. It amazed me that those with so little would give you so much. I had to hold back tears all night.
“In the morning, we gave them all the money we raised that night to get some breakfast and they were so grateful.
“What we really noticed is that nobody knows how to treat homeless people. They walked past us like we were a different species.
“One drunken man stole our water and ran off and emptied the bottle. Why would someone be so cruel?
“When 8am came I felt so guilty to be able to walk away, knowing I had a nice warm home to go to. The people we met had to start their day over again, outside.
“It was the biggest eye-opening experience and it’s broken my heart.”
Donate at www.localgiving.com/sponsoredsleepout