Hackney heroine encourages scores of teenagers to sleep out in the freezing weather

Hackney heroine Pauline Pearce told over 100 teenagers they can make their dreams happen if they focus and believe, as they braved near freezing conditions to sleep out in open air to raise awareness of homelessness.

The 16-18 year olds made shelters outside the West Reservoir Sports Centre in Stoke Newington as part of The Challenge Network’s Big Sleep Out, a nationwide event taking place in 13 other locations.

The organisation runs life-skills workshops and volunteering opportunities inspiring young people to connect with their communities.

Working with London homelessness charity SHP, youngsters were educated on the causes of homelessness, the dangers of living on the street and the impact of unstable housing.

Pearce, 46, who became an internet sensation during last year’s the riots when she waved her walking stick at youths and told them they made her ashamed to come from Hackney, came along to encourage the youngsters.

“For me it’s important to remind them of their dreams and aspirations and what a vital role they play in society,” she said.

“Focus and believe. If you believe and focus on your dreams you can make them happen,” she told them.

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“Giving back to your community is being you. My advice would be to find out what you’re passionate about,” she added.

The young people have set �1,000 fundraising target, which will benefit SHP’s welfare fund, supporting clients in emergency situations when they may be without food or clothing.

To donate go to https://www.justgiving.com/the-big-challenge-sleepout