Business leaders swapped their laptops for sleeping bags as they slept rough for the night to raise £26,000 towards creating training and job opportunities for long-term unemployed Teessiders.
The Victorian Street at Preston Park Museum played host to 45 businessmen and women as part of CEO Sleepout, a national fundraising phenomenon that began on Teesside.
Proceeds from the event will go towards funding training and apprenticeship opportunities for long-term unemployed Teessiders at The Fork in the Road, a charity-run restaurant on Middlesbrough’s Linthorpe Road.
The eatery provides training and job opportunities for ex-offenders, recovering addicts and other long-term unemployed.
Led by Teesside businessman and charity leader Andy Preston, the CEO Sleepout charity has already raised nearly £1.5 million to fight homelessness and poverty around the country.
Since the first CEO Sleepout at Middlesbrough FC’s Riverside Stadium in 2013, business leaders have slept rough at a range of landmark venues including Wembley Stadium, The Oval, Lords, Manchester’s Emirates Old Trafford, Durham Cathedral, Alnwick Gardens, Newcastle’s St James Park and Everton FC’s Goodison Park in Liverpool.
15% of all profits from non-Teesside events comes back here and will play a big part in the restaurant project.
Tees Business helped organise the Preston Park event before co-editor Dave Allan joined fellow businesspeople on the sleepout, including The Build Directory’s Alisdair Beveridge, Jamie Marsay of Applied Scientific Technologies, Kimberley Turner of Double Eleven, Bespoke Motor Works directors Daniel King and Russell Jackson, Cleveland Security’s Christine Baker and Gavin Scotchbrook of Stratus Technologies.
Others who took part included the Bishop of Whitby Paul Ferguson, Gary Pollard of charity Men Tell Health, Idrees Rashid of CVfm Radio, Teesside University’s Warren Harrison, Ian Donley of Tees Valley Innovation, Reuben Hanlon of Linthorpe Interiors, Richard Bendelow of 888 Properties, Café Lilli owner Roberto Pittalis, and Espresso Web directors Greg Langstaff and Stephen Robinson.
Further funds were raised when Tees firm Upex Pies donated funds from sales of their pies at the event.
Dave Allan said: “It’s nothing like what homeless people have to endure every night, but it was a cold, uncomfortable and largely sleepless night that gave us a tiny insight into what too many people have to experience night after night.
“Between us we’ve raised at least £26,000 on top of £45,000 raised at a similar event last year. I think it’s fantastic that Teesside has a business community that will band together to achieve something extraordinary like that.”
Founder-chairman Andy Preston added: “Well done to all business leaders who gave up their comfortable beds for a night on a hard floor to do something amazing. We’re also grateful to Preston Park Museum and Stockton Council for hosting the event.
“The money will help to fund exciting Fork in the Road plans that will allow us to change even more lives in 2018, while we’ll also be able to support some of Teesside’s greatest poverty fighters including the Moses Project in Stockton and local food banks in the run-up to Christmas and into January when demand for their services reaches its peak.”
The CEO Sleepout charity is now busy organising further fundraising events, in Northumberland, Durham, Newcastle and York. Recent events were held in London, Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham.