Two Teesside University professors will be sleeping rough for the night in a huge charity event that aims to raise money and awareness for homelessness and poverty.

Professor Azrini Wahidin and Professor Dorothy Newbury-Birch will be braving the cold winter night as part of the CEO Sleepout.

CEO Sleepout is a charity that raises money through executives who sleep outdoors for one night to raise sponsorship from their business contacts and colleagues.

The event is taking place at Preston Park Museum on 2 November.

Professors Wahidin and Newbury-Birch are leading the way for Teesside University and have already enlisted several colleagues to join them.

Their research is closely aligned with the issues and consequences of homelessness, substance misuse and deprivation.

Professor Wahidin is Associate Dean (Research & Innovation) in Teesside University’s School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law. She has published widely on issues such as youth justice, violence against women, women in prison and transitions from custody.

Professor Newbury-Birch is Professor of Alcohol and Public Health in the University’s School of Health & Social Care and specialises in work to reduce alcohol related harm in society, especially among young people and those involved in the criminal justice system. She is also a lead on one of the University’s Grand Challenge Themes, which utilise research and expertise to address some of the biggest issues of our time.

Reflecting on the CEO Sleepout, Professor Wahidin said: “I believe it is our responsibility – both as academics and members of Teesside University – to address social injustice and the sleepout is one way to raise awareness about homelessness and its many consequences.

“Nationally homelessness is on the rise and it is alarming when you think in 2017 there are still people sleeping under bridges, in car parks and on park benches. There are people who say they would rather be in prison than be homeless, which is a sad indictment of society.

“Homeless people have a life expectancy of just 47 years of age and are 17 times more likely to be victims of violence. Women on the street face the real fear of sexual exploitation. Our research tackles social injustice and social inequality and raising the issue of homelessness is one of the many ways we can put our research into practice.”

Professor Newbury-Birch added: “The most important thing about this is to raise awareness. Issues of inequality and poverty span our work, but it is not enough to just do the research, we have to try and experience it.

“We will be sleeping out for just one night – therefore it is difficult to comprehend having to do it 365 days a year. This is an opportunity to raise money and show solidarity with those who have become displaced by society through alcohol, poverty, substance abuse, violence or the consequences of war.”

Professors Wahidin and Newbury-Birch have set up a Just Giving page to raise funds. To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dorothy-newbury-birch.

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