MORE than 100 people slept outside during torrential rain in a bid to show solidarity with the homeless.

Many campers ran for cover as a downpour drenched people sleeping in the playground of Hove Lagoon which was part of a worldwide effort called The Big Sleep Out on Saturday evening.

The event, which was held at Hove Lagoon, saw big names such as folk-rock band The Levellers and comedian Joe Wilkinson sleep outside in “bivvy bags” on cardboard boxes.

It has raised more £40,000 – and counting – for charity.

Live music from local artists was on offer on a professional temporary stage at an event which lasted until 10pm.

Sussex Homeless Support, which runs the homeless buses on Brighton seafront, organised the event and is set to receive £20,000 from the effort.

Jim Deans, founder of charity, said: “A really, really bad two-hour storm hit in the middle of the night at about 2.30am. It was horrendous.

“There’s been a lot of storm damage and one of the gazebos got flattened.

“Sorry to say this, but good.

“Now everyone who was here on Saturday night knows exactly what it’s like to sleep rough.

“One councillor told me that if she worked out how to urinate in a bottle she wouldn’t have left her bivvy”.

She added: “If I didn’t have the option to go home in the morning, I would be looking for vodka or drugs to try and take away the pain.”

Thousands across the world, including Dame Helen Mirren and Will Smith, joined in with the The Big Sleep Out.

The event splits donations 50-50 with a local grassroots charity. Sussex Homeless Support was chosen in Brighton, and the The Big Sleep Out charity.

Founded by Josh Littlejohn, Mr Deans said The Big Sleep Out has helped build accommodation for those who need it most.

He said: “This is the first time this has been done in Brighton and it was a no-brainer for us to get involved

“Volunteers put this whole thing together and, it will be the first time out of my mouth, but a big thank you to the council.

“The events team have been fantastic and have helped me every step of the way.”

At the event held before the sleep out, people were entertained by live music and kept warm with hot drinks.

Legal and General donated £2,000 to the event, which allowed organisers to build a professional music stage which pumped out the music until 10pm.

Speaking at the event, Mr Deans added: “To be honest, I can’t wait for it to be over, it has been such a massive stretch.

“A lot of the people we work with do not get a lot of time to smile, but look at them now, they’re all having a great time.”

Brighton and Hove City Council representatives came down to show support.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Alan Robins said: “(The council) appreciates how difficult it is for people who are sleeping out all night.

“We have come down here because we want people to know we are aware of the situation and that we want to do more to alleviate the suffering that people are going through.”

Cllr Robins said “I’m too old – I have a gammy knee and a bad back” which meant he could not sleep out the night himself.

Varndean student Erin Christie-Clark, 18, raised £100 from her family and friends to brace the cold.

She said: “This is what people are going through most nights and it gives me a chance to know what it’s like.

“I’m here on my own but I’ve met some lovely people.”

A woman, who gave her name as Tracey, was sitting and enjoying a cup of tea with Erin.

She had previously volunteered at Sussex Homeless Support.

She said: “It is such a brilliant cause.

“We’re wrapped up in so many clothes that I’m worried we’re going to be too hot rather than too cold.”

Friends Karen Fisher, 56, and Lisa Durrant, 53, were clutching hot drinks on a bench as the music blasted out behind them.

Ms Fisher said: “My family are not doing Christmas presents this year and instead are donating everything to charity. The help system is so bad at the moment which is making it so easy to become homeless.

“All it takes is a divorce, or maybe a losing your job, and you too could be on the streets.”

Brighton Met teacher, Ms Durrant, said: “We have raised £650.”