CHILDREN as young as four-years-old slept in their school playground during stormy weather to help raise thousands of pounds for the homeless.

A group of around 40 adults and children spent the night in cardboard shelters at Ringwood Infant School during Storm Diana as part of the Church Urban Fund’s Advent Sleepout Challenge.

The school playground was filled with makeshift cardboard shelters, sleeping bags and tents.

The challenge, which has been running for the past four years, has raised funds to provide support, food, shelter and beds for people who would otherwise have nowhere to sleep.

More than £2,000 was raised in support of the homeless.

Hilary Silk, headteacher at Ringwood Infant School, said: “We held the sleepout last year: the children who took part really demonstrated an understanding of what it meant.

“It has a really big impact on their life and us as a school community, so we wanted to do it again this year. We talk to the children about showing love in action – about doing something for somebody else. The children get a lot from the whole experience.”

Scarlett, who took part in the sleepout despite it being her seventh birthday, said: “I want to help those without a bed of their own.”

Organiser Paul Gray said: “Despite a disturbed and wet night’s sleep it was truly wonderful to see everyone cheerful and helping each other the following morning. We really got an insight into what it is like to spend a night on the streets. But we had the comfort of knowing that we were safe, with friends and could look forward to dry sheets on Saturday night”.

The event was run by Ringwood Benefice and it is the second time they have partnered with Ringwood Infant School.