CEO Sleepout, which was launched in Middlesbrough to reduce homelessness, is returning to the Riverside Stadium to celebrate its 10th birthday.
The initiative aims to raise awareness and vital funds to support homelessness across the country by encouraging business people to spend a night sleeping out in the cold to gain a better understanding of what homelessness means.
So far, there have been nine sleepouts in Middlesbrough, one every year since it was launched, and this year’s event will take place at the Riverside Stadium on March 30th, back where it all began in 2013.
It is hoped that 100 participants will join CEO Sleepout at the end of the month to raise £50,000 to support homelessness in the region. Most of the spaces for this special event have been taken and the charity organisers are urging anyone who wants to sign up to do so quickly.
Chief Executive of the charity Bianca Robinson says money raised will boost organisations that help families on the brink of destitution and homelessness across the Tees Valley. Speaking of the sleepout she said: “I am so excited to bring CEO Sleepout back to where it all began, the Riverside Stadium, for our 10th anniversary.”
10 years ago, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston developed the idea to hold a CEO Sleepout event through the charity he set up, The Teesside Charity – previously known as the Teesside and Middlesbrough Philanthropic Foundation.
He joined forces with Joanna Wake to promote the event and gained support from the local business community. The event raised a phenomenal £37,000, which was ploughed back into good causes on the frontline of homelessness and poverty across Teesside.
This year’s event is in partnership with Middlesbrough FC Foundation, The Teesside Charity and the Poverty Hurts Appeal (CDCF). Funds raised from the sleepout will also support several other initiatives from across the region, including TRAC UK, Recovery Connections and Moses Project.
Bianca said: “I’m so proud to support the incredible work of The Teesside Charity, the MFC Foundation and many more. What each organisation does to help people facing real hardship is incredible – supporting families, individuals and young people in need.
“We will also make sure grass-roots organisations on the frontline of homelessness, recovery and poverty receive a share of funds raised to maximise the good we can do when business leaders come together for Teesside.”
The MFC Foundation, the official charity of Middlesbrough FC, will be benefiting from funds raised at this event. The Foundation delivers programmes across the region providing opportunities to raise aspirations and improve life chances in the community.
Lynsey Edwards, Head of the Foundation, said: “We’re really proud to be a part of CEO Sleepout once again. The event will not only support the work we do but also a number of other local charities.
“As well as the fundraising, the sleepout is really powerful to show partners and people across Teesside coming together and working collaboratively to support our community.”
Melissa Coutts, the Managing Director of Darlington agency Recruitrite, has been involved in CEO Sleepout from the start, but this event will be her last, as she is passing on the reins to her team member Anya.
Speaking on why she first decided to sign up for CEO Sleepout, she said: “I love to support small local charities that make a real difference to local people and CEO Sleepout certainly does this.
“It’s really important to me to use my time to support those that need it most and to show my two sons that we need to support our community in any way we can, whether that’s volunteering our time or financial resources.”
The sleepout is sure to be a memorable event with a special performance from Teesside’s own Esmae, whose songs have been streamed nearly half a million times, as well as hearing from people who have lived and overcome homelessness.
Speaking of the Middlesbrough business community, Bianca said: “Teesside has plenty of successful businesses, and business leaders who are keen to show that they care about the inequalities evident in our area and in society as a whole.
“It’s amazing to see how willing they are to get behind this very important cause and show real, tangible support for those who need the most help.”
To sign up to sleep out in Middlesbrough on March 30th, visit: ceosleepout.co.uk/middlesbrough