• Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Participants of the Middlesbrough CEO Sleepout including chief executive Bianca Robinson (centre)Participants of the Middlesbrough CEO Sleepout including chief executive Bianca Robinson (centre)

A group of Teesside businesspeople braved the cold to spend a night outside to raise vital funds and awareness of homelessness.

75 people took part in the recent CEO Sleepout, held at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, and the money reached an incredible £65,000, with donations still rolling in, which will go a long way to helping people who are homeless across the region.

The event celebrated the national initiative’s 10th birthday in the place where it all began in 2013. Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston came up with the idea to host the event, which quickly gained support from the local business community.

Chief executive of the charity Bianca Robinson said: “It’s amazing to see how willing the Teesside community is as a collective to get behind this very important cause and show real, tangible support for some of the most marginalised people in our area, and those who need the most help.

She added: “The atmosphere on the night was wonderful and knowing we were helping vulnerable people from the local area made it all the more special.”

The sleepout was in collaboration with Middlesbrough FC Foundation, The Teesside Charity and local grassroots charities on the frontline supporting people who are or at risk of homelessness every day.

Before heading outdoors for the night, participants heard from people who have lived through and overcome homelessness. Paul Haigh shared his story as a British Army veteran who fell into homelessness. Small kindnesses helped him to get his life back, and now he works with Walking With The Wounded to help other veterans.

Paul Suggit, a local filmmaker, shared his experience of spending weeks sleeping rough in Middlesbrough, highlighting some of the challenges he faced during lockdown.

Many participants said these insights were the highlight of the night for them as they evoked a change of attitude towards people forced to sleep rough, or those facing homelessness.

As participants settled down for the night they were treated to a few songs from Teesside’s own ESMAE, which certainly helped set the positive atmosphere.

Bianca said: “I’m so proud of the Teesside business community for sleeping out and supporting our charity, especially considering many business people are facing their own challenges with soaring costs.

“With the cost of living continuing to rise, people across Teesside are struggling to survive; skipping meals so their children can eat and going without heating on the coldest of days, which is why getting involved in CEO Sleepout events is so important.”

Since the charity was founded in 2013, events have been held at venues across the country, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Sunderland, Kent and Darlington, which have to date raised an incredible £3.8 million – £300,000 of which has been raised here on Teesside, for local people in need.

For more information on the CEO Sleepout events, visit ceosleepout.co.uk