The North East business community has experienced one night sleeping without shelter at St. James’ Park in a bid to raise a record-breaking sum to tackle homelessness with Newcastle United Foundation.
With donations remaining open for another few weeks, a huge £73,656 has already been fundraised towards supporting Newcastle United Foundation, CEO Sleepout and Changing Lives – charities all committed to supporting people affected by homelessness in the North East.
And despite temperatures hovering around 2°C overnight, those taking part were inspired to carry on following presentations each charity detailing how money raised would improve the lives across the region.
Newcastle United Foundation Trustee Shola Ameobi was among the group taking part in his commitment to supporting vulnerable people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, addiction, or long-term unemployment.
He said: “To meet people who have been homeless and hear their stories was very humbling and a reminder that so much more work is needed to help more people in and around our city.
“To be part of the CEO Sleepout in St. James’ Park was brilliant as we all witnessed a real community spirit throughout our local business leaders, who are all doing their part to tackle homelessness.”
The event is the first sleepout to take place at St. James’ Park since the coronavirus crisis began – a period in which North-East based charity Changing Lives reported a 31 per cent increase in the number of people accessing their Housing and Homelessness services between April 2020 and March 2021 compared to the previous year, before the pandemic began.
The trio of charities splitting the sum raised hope to beat the record-breaking £119,500 raised during the CEO Sleepout Newcastle in 2018.
Steve Beharall, Head of Newcastle United Foundation – who also took part in this year’s sleepout – said: “It has been an incredible effort by everyone to make this the biggest CEO Sleepout in Newcastle that we’ve ever had, and it is fantastic to see our community coming together again following the pandemic.
“It’s a humbling experience to sleep out without shelter for one night, but we know this is just one distressing aspect of homelessness that people face every single day.
“Through this CEO Sleepout event, our charities will be able to make positive changes for our most vulnerable community members here in the North East.”
Newcastle United Foundation will use donations to support employability project like its Street Football programme – free weekly sessions using sport to engage vulnerable young people and adults.
Bianca Robinson, CEO at CEO Sleepout, said: “I’m always blown away by the support we receive in Newcastle and this year’s event was the biggest one yet.
“It was really inspiring and humbling to see so many business leaders coming together for the first CEO Sleepout of the year and the money raised will truly make a difference to those most vulnerable in the local area.
“It was an amazing effort by so many people and a one that is really appreciated.”
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