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Charity 'rough sleeper' spends first night in Inverness on eight-week mission to raise money for homeless

By Niall Harkiss

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A charity founder from Edinburgh will spend the next week sleeping rough in Inverness as part of an eight-week nationwide challenge to raise money for homelessness.

Richard (Richie) Roncero launched charity Steps to Hope in 2018 to provide care for the homeless and people suffering from addiction.

Richie Roncero from Edinburgh is sleeping rough in eight different UK cities over eight weeks to raise money for his charity, Steps to Hope.
Richie Roncero from Edinburgh is sleeping rough in eight different UK cities over eight weeks to raise money for his charity, Steps to Hope.

The 39-year-old, who himself overcame addiction, completed a five-week "sleeping rough" challenge back in 2021, raising enough money to purchase a ten-bedroom property in West Lothian, which was then developed into a place where Steps to Hope service users can overcome their battle with addition.

Two years later, Richie has taken to the streets again in a bid to raise new funds for much needed renovations to the property.

But this time - with just a sleeping bag and his mobile phone - he aims to spent eight-weeks on the streets, sleeping rough in eight different cities - including the Highland capital.

Such has been the support for his campaign, he had raised almost £25,000 before he had even set foot on a train. Now just a fortnight away from his final day, his fundraising total sits at just over £142,000 of his £150,000 target.

Having left the comfort of his home on Tuesday, December 5, Richie's travels have taken him to Glasgow, Belfast, down to Cardiff, then up via Blackpool, Manchester and Newcastle on his way to Inverness. He will finish his journey in Dundee.

After arriving in the north yesterday, he shared a short morning update from the public toilets of McDonald's restaurant in the city centre.

With just £27.76 in cash, and a fortnight or rough sleeping left, he said: "The toilets at the train station cost 50 pence, and I notice they have showers there, but it is £5 for a shower. I am going to get out there and do some begging today, to see if I can afford to have a shower.

He said: "There doesn't seem to be any rough sleepers here, but I did see a few people begging. I am going to see if I can engage with some of the beggers this morning, to get to know them and get to know the services available here.

"It was about three degrees this morning, which was chilly, but I got up and got moving. I'm just gutted that I've had to wait until 7am. I'm up by about half 5 at the latest, which is a long time to wait, especially if its raining."

To support Richie and Steps to Hope visit justgiving.com/campaign/sleeprough8weeks8cities.

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