A national charity’s “Teesside homecoming” is set to raise around £50,000 in the fight against local poverty after more than 60 business leaders took part in the latest CEO Sleepout event.
Middlesbrough-based charity CEO Sleepout encouraged the business executives to sleep out for one night to make a stand – and raise funds – against local poverty and homelessness.
With support from Stockton Council, the outdoor Victorian Street within Preston Park Museum played host to an event those taking part believe will make a lasting impact on all participants.
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Among those taking part were Elaine McLaine-Wood of Stockton-based Punch Robson Solicitors, who has raised more than £1,500 so far.
Reflecting on her first sleepout, she said: “As confident a person as I am, I was very anxious beforehand, though I was reassured by the professional organisation.
“But I was very much out of my comfort zone. It was bitterly cold and I didn’t get much sleep.
“It does make you reflect on the things we take for granted and has made me think about helping out more at things like food banks this Christmas.”
Top individual fundraiser was Nomi Ahmad, head of Wilton-based Sembcorp Energy UK, who has raised over £3,500.
Nomi, who was joined by Sembcorp colleagues Matthew Scrimshaw, Natasha Wilkinson and Dave Thompson, said: “It was an extraordinary experience and immensely humbling to take part in the sleepout.
“It gave everyone involved a real understanding of the hardships that scores of people on Teesside struggle with every night and it’s good to know that every penny of the money raised will help to alleviate homelessness and poverty in this area.”
Jo Davies of Middlesbrough firm HR Alchemy, reflected on the sleepout: “It’s not easy but I’m glad I did it. I came home cold and wet but to a nice warm house and bed. Those who sleep rough have to face that night after night, so it has changed my opinion on homelessness.”
Others taking part included Jo Davies of HR Alchemy, Lou Tonner and Chloe Clover of Wander Films, Durham Lifting’s Amanda Gardiner, Michelle Carter and Nathan Steel of Bespoke Financial, Malcolm Knott of Industrial Technology Solutions and Gareth Jones and Amy Rose of the Endeavour Partnership.
Keith Miller, managing director of Middlesbrough firm Ecco Finishing Supplies, was the only person taking part in Monday night’s event who also took part in the first ever CEO Sleepout outside the Riverside Stadium in 2013.
He said: “I was part of the group that did the very first event and want this to be something I do again and again.
“It was a tough night but it was our choice – some people don’t have that choice. I had several moments to reflect and, as a result, will be offering my services to help a charity serve Christmas dinner this year.”
Organiser Bianca Robinson, CEO of CEO Sleepout, said: “A massive thank you to all those who braved the rain and freezing cold conditions to make a difference to the lives of the very most disadvantaged Teessiders.
“They didn’t get much sleep but I’m sure they found it to be an enlightening experience.”
Representatives of four local charities – Middlesbrough Rapid Relief Team, My Sisters Place, the Moses Project and TRAC Uk – who will receive a share of the funds raised spoke at the start of the event.
Fundraisers were allowed to take along a sleeping bag and mat, while they were also given access to hot drinks and toilets throughout the night.
Founded by Andy Preston, now the mayor of Middlesbrough, CEO Sleepout has raised £2.7 million via events across the country with nearly 3,000 business leaders sleeping out at locations including Wembley, Lords Cricket Ground, The Alnwick Garden and Durham Cathedral.