Ali sleeps out for charity
As the weather starts getting colder, it’s easy for most of us to just whack the heating on or light a fire. But while we take these home comforts for granted, we should spare a thought for the millions of people who are hit by poverty and homelessness.
Thankfully, there are organisations working hard to raise awareness and funds to combat these issues – in particular CEO Sleepout UK.
CEO Sleepout is a charity set up to fight homelessness and poverty. They’re funded with money raised by big hearted business and community leaders who pledge to sleep outdoors for one night to raise awareness and sponsorship from their business contacts and friends. That money is then put to work fighting homelessness and poverty in each of the host cities.
What’s great about their fight is that the money raised in the host city stays in that area, helping people on our doorsteps.
In November, our director Ali joined over 40 local business leaders around Hull and East Yorkshire and took part in the CEO Sleepout at the KCOM Stadium – home of Hull City and Hull FC. Here’s what her night was like:
My CEO Sleepout Experience
As soon as I arrived at the KCOM Stadium, I knew I was in for a good night. The atmosphere was brilliant, with people sharing hot drinks and biscuits. Some people had even baked cakes for the event. It was a great ice-breaker and made everyone feel at ease.
It was really nice to see so many members of the local business community come together for such a good cause. Some companies had a few representatives but as I was on my own, I got chatting to quite a few people, trying to find a buddy for the evening. Thankfully, there were a lot of familiar faces and everyone made me feel welcome.
One of the charities to benefit from the money raised on the evening was Emmaus (Hull & East Riding). We got to see an example of how that money will be spent when they handed us all a gift bag to use on the night. The bag contained a foil emergency blanket, a hat, a scarf, gloves, a toothbrush and a waterproof mac. These bags are what Emmaus hand out to homeless people on the streets of Hull and East Riding all the time.
All of the items in the bag were things that I’d already brought with me, so I gave mine back, so it could be given to someone in real need of it.
Once everyone had settled and made introductions, Bianca from CEO Sleepout UK gave a brief speech about the work that the charity does. She talked about some of the people and families that they’re able to help because of events like this one. What made it even more fantastic was that she used examples from our area.
Emmaus gave some examples of the ways in which they’ve rehabilitated homeless people in Hull. The work they do really is fantastic and it made everyone determined to continue raising money and awareness after the event.
The Tigers Trust, who also had representatives at the sleepout, reminded us that it’s not just the homeless who need support. Thousands of families in our area live in poverty and the work they do offers support to these people too.
It put everything into perspective and made me really glad that I’d volunteered – even though I’d been suffering all week with tonsillitis – because the people we were helping don’t have a choice when it comes to sleeping out. And they certainly wouldn’t have the four layers plus a sleeping bag, big coat, hat and gloves that I was wearing.
Just as we could feel the cold really setting in, a singer came to entertain us and get us all up and moving about. He also sold raffle tickets to keep our minds on what the real reason was for being there – raising as much money for this wonderful cause as we could.
It was a long night and it took everyone a while to get any sleep. I personally kept waking up and each time I did, it made me realise how long every night must be for anyone sleeping on the streets. Not to mention the many other dangers that they’re up against every night.
At 5:30 on Friday morning, the sleepout ended, the gates at the stadium opened and it was time to go home.
Driving home in my warm car, I realised how lucky I am to be able to go back to my family and my comfy, heated house. There are so many people in our area who don’t have that option. I definitely won’t take any home comforts for granted.
I’d encourage anybody to take part in events like this and, next year, Forward And Thinking is going to be well represented at the CEO Sleepout.
Thank you to CEO Sleepout for letting us get involved in this amazing project and well done to all of my fellow sleepers for the money raised.
And finally, a big thank you to everybody who made a donation and my team at Forward And Thinking for donating and supporting me.
For more information about the CEO Sleepout and how you can get involved in future events, go to www.ceosleepoutuk.com