A YORK-based charity which helps homeless young people has revealed that it experienced a 90 per cent surge in demand for its services last year.

Now SASH (Safe and Sound Homes) is urging residents to sleep out for a night in the grounds of the Minster in March to help raise funds to continue its work through 2013.

The charity, which finds volunteer hosts who will put up homeless people for a few nights so they have time to sort out their problems, said it organised about 840 such nights of accommodation in 2012.

The number contrasts with the 432 nights it organised in 2011, although a small part of the increase is accounted for by the launch of a new service in East Yorkshire in the autumn, which accounted for 40 extra nights.

The charity dealt with fresh referrals over the Christmas period, including a young woman who went to stay with two host families in East Yorkshire and a man who went to stay with a host in York.

SASH director Peter Robinson said all the signs were that the increase in demand was set to continue in 2013, which meant increased costs, and the charity was facing a significant financial challenge.

“This is why we are asking local people to help by taking part in a challenge themselves and joining us for our sponsored Sleepout, which will take place at York Minster on March 4,” he said.

“The event will involve sleeping overnight in the grounds with just a sleeping bag and some cardboard boxes for shelter to raise awareness of homelessness and funds for SASH.”

He said the sleep-out was organised for the first time last year and was extremely successful.

“Although the time of year makes the Sleepout a real challenge, everyone who took part said it was a worthwhile event.

“We would love to see more people get involved this year – all the details are on our website at www.sash-uk.org.uk or people can call 01904 652043.”