YOUTH groups joined church ministers and community groups for a sleep out to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless.

The local outdoor event, which featured Largs Boys' and Girls' Brigade, was run in parallel to similar events being run by homeless charity Social Bite in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Those involved experienced what it was like to sleep rough for an evening as they bunked down on the steps of a Largs church.

Reverend Jonathan Fleming, who helped organise the sleep out, said it taught all involved a valuable lesson.

He said: "The night was well supported. We slept in the doorway of the Clark Memorial, which was quite apt as in the past homeless people in the town used to sleep there.

"The sleep out was on a very cold night.

"We lay in the archway and we had a whole pile of cardboard to make a wall on the railings to keep the cold out. The kids all slept in their sleeping bags.

"We had well over a dozen from Largs BB, Girls' Brigade and church organisations. Rev Mandy Ralph co-ordinated most of it and the Rev. David Watson and myself also took part.

"There were plenty of volunteers from across the churches and it was a really uplifting night. You could see how it raised the awareness of the homeless' plight.

"We still had the escape route - we could go for a hot drink, we could go indoors if need be, and yet no-one chose to do it, as they all said, 'No, we are all going to do this properly'.

"The Willowbank Hotel very kindly provided bacon rolls for us which was really nice of them, and again, there was a humility in it. The whole place was quiet, and everyone was really glad to have the food.

"All the participants on the night were given a certificate for their efforts."

Speaking about the effects on raising funds for homeless charities, the Largs minister said more needs done.

He added: "Everyone needs to think what they can do to help.

"Small things can make a difference."