TENS of thousands of pounds has been raised to help Sunderland’s homeless after business leaders braved Storm Ciara to sleep out at the Stadium of Light
The annual Sunderland CEO Sleepout was staged overnight from Thursday November 2 at the home of the Black Cats.
Notable local business leaders huddled in their sleeping bags at the ground as the North East was battered with heavy wind and rain.
However, they have so far managed to raise over £34,000 for a string of local charities tasked with helping the homeless this winter.
Organiser Bianca Robinson said the event was an “incredible success”.
“The weather was awful but the spirt of the group shone through,” said Bianca, Chief Executive of CEO Sleepout.
“They were determined not to let the rain put a dampener on their night, and their efforts have raised money that will help hundreds of the most vulnerable people in Sunderland during the darkest and coldest months.
“It also provided the group with a taste of the unforgiving hardship thousands of rough sleepers face every single night.
“And while the event doesn’t aim to replicate what the homeless face, it hopefully gave the business community a greater understanding and appreciation as to how hard life on the street can be.”
And with the money continuing to she hopes the final fundraising tally will surpass £40,000 thanks to match funding from some of the businesses that took part.
One participant, Gemma Taylor, Contract Pack Manager for Clearly Drinks, said the event was a “humbling experience”.
She added: “What a great night to be part of and such a worthwhile cause to raise money for.
“Giving up my warm bed to spend one night outdoors was a very humbling experience and really opened my eyes to the terrifying reality thousands of homeless people have to endure night after night.
Launched in 2013, CEO Sleepout events take place across the UK. To date, the charity has raised around £4m by asking business leaders to spend a night in the cold.
This year, money raised at the Sunderland CEO Sleepout will benefit Walking with the Wounded, Changing Lives, DePaul UK, Foundation of Light, the Red Sky Foundation and CEO Sleepout itself.
Every penny raised will stay in Sunderland and the North East to strengthen local communities.
And Steve Davison, Chief Executive Officer of Sunderland AFC, added: “I have a far better understanding of the challenges of being homeless, but I know we have only scratched the surface.
“Even this insight has made me realise how important it is to do what we can as society to address the problem and I saw first-hand the great work that CEO Sleepout do to address the issues. It is brilliant that so much money has been raised.”