By Bianca Robinson, CEO Sleepout’s Chief Executive
Before Covid-19 struck, charity CEO Sleepout had raised millions across the UK, organising group sleepouts to help fight homelessness and poverty. But when lockdown arrived the organisation’s fundraising model was instantly redundant. Faced with an uncertain future and zero income, CEO Sleepout’s boss and trustees were understandably worried.
The charity refused to give up on those in need. Determined to maintain its support for groups like foodbank charity Trussell Trust, CEO Sleepout innovated a new way of doing things. Instead of large scale group sleepouts in iconic locations 300 people stayed at home to raise funds to support their brothers and sisters in need.
The big-hearted volunteers gave up their bed for the night of June 1st and slept on their living room floor or in their garden – raising a combined total of £46,000.
Before bedding down everyone joined a Zoom call to meet each other and hear more about homelessness and poverty from the sleepout’s beneficiary charities.
Participants on June 1st ranged from executives, parents with kids and even singer Joe McElderry – who had previously taken part in a CEO Sleepout event and sleeping outdoors during the Beast From The East snow storm.
This time the weather was kinder and Joe slept out with his Mum, Eileen. Joe said ”I took part as when we tour around the UK we often see the devastation that homelessness causes around our country. We are outdoor folks so we quite enjoyed it as the weather was beautiful and quite a bit different from the last one. We want to help to end homelessness it really should not be an issue here in the UK.
Fellow volunteer Sarah Carlton, from Co. Durham spent the night with her son Benn and said “What we did doesn’t compare to what homeless people experience night after night, but hopefully we can help in a small way. £100 provides 2000 meals, so we were thrilled to meet that target. It’s also a great way to teach Benn about compassion and empathy for others who are less fortunate.”
Mark Carney from Yarm said “I think there’s a stigma surrounding the homeless and how someone ends up in that situation, but it’s easy to forget they’re people too. The level of anxiety, vulnerability, exposure and fear I felt pales in comparison to how others must feel daily, when the weather isn’t pleasant or the streets aren’t quiet because the pubs are shut. Going forward, I am going to make an active effort to get involved with organisations that help more, and would encourage others to show more compassion to those less fortunate.
CEO Sleepout UK would normally host events in stadia and high-profile venues across the UK such as Lord’s Cricket Ground, the London Stadium, Emirates Old Trafford CCG, and St James’ Park. The events attract business and community leaders who pledge to sleep outdoors for one night. The aim is to raise awareness and sponsorship with help from participants’ little black books to make a much needed difference in host cities.
“CEO Sleepout is intended to raise awareness and lots of money to fight homelessness locally and nationally, but also to remind all of us that we have the power to make a stand against inequality. It’s a great shame that we have had to cancel or postpone our programme of events this spring, but the Stay At Home Sleepout has shown that as a charity we can adapt and survive, changing the way we do things to provide a way to support charities desperate for funds during these unexpected times.” Said CEO Sleepout’s Chief Executive, Bianca Robinson.
“I’m always blown away by the generosity of spirit that the many business people who have taken part bring to CEO Sleepout events, and it’s been a joy to see business leaders use the Stay At Home Sleepout as a way to involve their families and teach their kids about inequality an compassion,” says Bianca.
To date, CEO Sleepout has raised over £2.7 million with over 3500 participants taking part in their nationwide events. CEO Sleepout alumni include the likes of entrepreneur Lara Morgan, CEO of Amanda Wakeley, Alya Fateh, Chief Executive of MCC Guy Lavender, and the highest CEO Sleepout fundraiser to date, Philip Marsden of Ridgeway Partners – raising a whopping £65,000.
For more information or to take part please contact Bianca Robinson, CEO Sleepout’s Chief Executive on firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Massey, Worcestershire – “We are doing our best to support those in serious need of help, cover over their heads and food & drink to live and help them back on the road to recovery in many ways.”
Tim Murphy, Durham – “I wanted to continue supporting the cause after last year’s event at Durham Cathedral and, as a volunteer at Chester le Street Foodbank, I was also pleased to support the Trussell Trust.”
Dan Arnold, Portsmouth – “I think who are homeless are demonised by society a lot of the time, If recent events and covid-19 have shown me anything is how hand to mouth we are as a society a global pandemic swept the country and potentially made hundreds of families homeless we are all only 2 paychecks away from being homeless yourself for most of us. when you say it like that we all have the ability to hit hard times. The gap between “us and them really isn’t that big.”
Mark Tibbett, Middlesbrough – “I decided to sleep out because I wanted to experience exactly how some people have to live and I’m really glad I raised money to help those less fortunate. I have a disability called Arthrogryposis which means I have very limited joint movements. I can’t walk properly and have poor balance, my arms are also misshapen. I’m also looking for ways to push myself and this was definitely one of them times. I’m looking forward to my next sleep out and will be definitely getting others involved. The worst part for me was how uncomfortable it was, floor then cardboard box isn’t good for any one, I really do feel for people having nothing more than this in this day and age. The part I enjoyed was the experience again, but also trying to get money together to help people and their animals. That’s why I choose Street Paws. I have a staffy and I’d hate for her to be in that position.