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A POLICE worker who reunites missing people with their families spent a night on the streets sleeping rough to raise cash for a charity which helps young runaways.

Tim Fish, a former police officer now working as a missing persons investigator for South Yorkshire Police, bedded down in the courthouse car park in Barnsley town centre with around 40 other volunteers.

The event was organised by Voluntary Action to raise cash for Safe@Last. The charity runs a confidential helpline and one-to-one support, an education and prevention programme and the only children’s refuge in the country.

Mr Fish, who has worked for South Yorkshire Police for 35 years, said: “Of children that go missing one in six spend time alone on the streets. It is important for young people to be aware and the police and Safe@Last can offer them alternatives to sleeping rough.

“It was great so many people turned out for the event, including scouts and students and even the Mayor Coun Dorothy Higginbottom who visited us before we bedded down.

“It rained and it was cold and I was in a lot of pain after sleeping on the concrete all night! But that’s the unfortunate reality for people who find themselves homeless.”

The event was the charity’s second Big Sleepout of the year to raise funds for the estimated 4,000 children and young people in South Yorkshire who run away from home each year.

Safe@Last operations director Mark Smith said: “We had a wide range of sleepers take part this year from the Penistone Scout Group to professionals from local services, all recognising the collective responsibility to safeguard children and young people.”

Carolyn Ellis from Voluntary Action Barnsley said: “It’s great to know all the money raised will be used to continue to work with young people and their families who really need it.”

Two more sleepouts are still to come, at Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield this Friday and at Parkgate in Rotherham next Friday, October 19.