COLCHESTER United players and supporters slept outside in the stalls last night for the team’s first ever sleep out.

Footballers and members of the public, who form Colchester United’s Football in the Community team, did a sponsored sleep-out from 7.30pm on Friday 23 until 8am this morning to raise money for two special causes.

The event at Weston Homes Community Stadium raised funds for Colchester United’s FITC disability sports programmes, due to be launched in April, and Colchester Rough Sleepers Group (CRSG).

Callum Murphy, health and inclusion development officer at Colchester United’s FITC, helped create the event and slept out for the 12 hours.

He said: “We’ve had a good response on our Eventbrite page, and got 16 people willing to spend the night in the cold.

“Our target was to raise over £2,000 and we’ve accomplished more than that so far.

“We’ve also had the Bishop of Colchester join us, so we’ve had lots of people in the community to help us support two great causes.”

The aim of the event was to bring the community together for a rewarding life experience as well as raising money.

Everyone who took part brought only a sleeping bag or cover and a pillow to make the experience as authentic as possible.

One of the participants, Julia Best, of CRSG, said: “We group together when things get really cold out there for the homeless, so when I found out that this event was happening, we decided to come and get involved.

“After all, those people out there, they don’t get a choice.”

Given the unanticipated turnout, Vic Flores, CRSG’s project manager, said he hopes this event will be the first of many annual sleep-outs.

“It’s been enjoyable. I’ve never slept rough before – I’m just glad it didn’t rain,” he said.

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