Where are you reading this from right now? The comfort of your sofa, your bed or at your desk work?
If you are then you are lucky. An astounding amount of people around Manchester do not have this luxury.
Despite the fact that Manchester’s business growth is always on the rise it has the highest figures for homelessness in the North West, with an estimated 2,000 people either living on the streets or in temporary accommodation. Another 325 people are homeless in Salford.
These figures are shocking. Let me put this into perspective for you. That’s around two Manchester Secondary Schools of people with no homes. We are used to seeing homeless people on the corner of our streets but now more than ever we should be fighting to find a solution for it.
CEO Sleepout is a charity set up to fight homelessness and poverty that tackles problems like we have here in Manchester. The charity was officially formed in December 2013 by Andy Preston after two successful CEO Sleepout events. It is funded with the sponsorship money raised by CEO’s.
CEO Sleepout is a community driven charity that is committed to supporting local charities in all of their host cities. They also support charities that work hard to combat poverty and homelessness the length and breadth of the UK.
So far more than 1,000 executives have raised £1 million for Homeless causes.
On Monday the 16th October 2017 CEO’s from across Manchester came together for the Manchester event. Our director JD was amongst the Manchester CEO’s that took part.
- Why did you decide to get involved with CEO Sleepout Manchester?
“As part of Connections Recruitment’s continuing CSR policy I felt it necessary and worthwhile to highlight the plight of homeless, not only in Manchester but globally. Most of us live “privileged” lives not worrying about where to get our next cup of coffee, beer or slice of toast so to experience albeit for only one night something like this would be a humbling and out of comfort zone experience that would raise valuable and much needed funds for Manchester charities.”
2. Have you done anything like this before?
“Never…Although spending a lot of time in different areas of Manchester I am painfully aware of the serious increase in people on the streets of our city. I am only hopeful that my fellow campers and I can help to tackle this issue so that we can find solutions that can support people who find themselves in this position and support them back into housing and either employment or education.”
3. How did you raise the money?
“The generosity of friends and many gentle reminders! I am always impressed with the generosity of both the Manchester business community and the general public of Manchester as a whole.”
4. What was your target figure, and how much did you actually raise?
“The target was £1,000. I was delighted to surpass that figure by nearly 50% and thank all my friends, family and business colleagues who donated to this most worthwhile cause – if you haven’t already done so and still want to donate.”
Just Giving page – www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jonathandobkin
5. How did you prepare yourself for the Sleepout?
“I have two young boys so sleep is a luxury…but however little you get it is still indoors and in a soft warm and comfy double bed. This HOWEVER is a completely different experience – armed with a season 3 (Winter) sleeping bag, a large winter puffa coat, scarf hat and gloves not forgetting thermals and cardboard as a mattress I mentally prepared for a sleep deprived night in the cold under the stars. Fortunately for me this wasn’t in a doorway of a Tesco or Aldi like most homeless but at the hallowed Lancashire Country Cricket ground.”
6. Tell us about your ‘Sleeping Rough’ experience.
“I arrived at the Emirates Old Trafford 8pm along with 70 other business owners who were all there to brave the end of Storm Ophelia sleeping outside and raising valuable funds for the Manchester Charities. We listened to two inspirational speakers who had been homeless and had fought their way back into society along with leaders of the Charities and were entertained with a few tunes from the highly impressive Manchester United Foundation Choir, before enjoying a cup of hot soup and a bread roll. A couple of hours of “networking” followed before me and my fellow “sleepers” took to the stands.”
“I had been advised to take a position low down in a “sheltered” area, so set up my “bed” between the rows of seats in the stand in front of the pavilion. With my cardboard mattress and snuggled in my sleeping bag, my nights “sleep” began?? It was dry (what a bonus!!! – my praying had worked!!) And whilst the wind howled around the ground I did manage to slowly doze off. Whilst I woke up a few times during the night, I surprisingly managed to get a few hours’ sleep in and woke as daylight broke to the chatter, yawns and stretches of my fellow sleepers (slightly different than a 5 year old jumping on your bed to wake you up!!) Somewhat bleary eyed we made our way out of the ground back to “normality” but not forgetting that most homeless people can’t just get up and continue with their daily routine – for them that night will be sleeping rough again!”
7. How did it make you feel?
“Humbled and proud that I had come out of my comfort zone and whilst not experienced “true” city centre homelessness at least created awareness of this epidemic.”
8. Has it giving you more of an appreciation for you home/How has it made you feel towards homeless people now?
“Absolutely!! It is amazing how much you appreciate your bed and “hot” water the following day and ongoing. I will continue to create awareness of this issue and endeavour to try in every way possible to reduce homelessness on our streets.”
Homelessness in Manchester is at a crisis level and events like CEO Sleepout are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other ways that we can help end homelessness for good.
There are a number of local charities in Manchester that fight to end homelessness. You can find a list of them here;
- CEO Sleepout: http://www.ceosleepoutuk.com/
- Not Just Soup: http://www.notjustsoupkitchen.co.uk/
- Street Support: https://streetsupport.net/
- Barnabus: http://www.barnabus-manchester.org.uk/
- Mustard Tree: http://www.mustardtree.org.uk/
- City Mission: https://citymission.org.uk/