First and most importantly, thank you. Thank you, to every one of the 1100 people, who last Friday choose not the pub, or the cinema, or the take-away in front of the telly, but the sleeping bag, the umbrella, the tarpaulin and the torrential rain. It may have been one of the wettest Byte Nights ever, but it was also the largest Byte Night ever, the most profitable Byte Night ever, and the year when we smashed through our target of £5m raised since the event began 15 years ago.
The fact that we achieved all this during a shower of almost biblical proportions, is testament to the quite incredible support that we receive from the IT and business community. That said, it didn’t rain everywhere. Scotland (SCOTLAND?!) enjoyed a rain-free event this year, despite having an average annual rainfall of 4,577mm. Coincidentally, this was the exact amount of water that I poured from my sleeping bag when I arrived home on Saturday morning.
When I vacated my airing cupboard three hours later, my core temperature having returned to 37 degrees centigrade, I began to take stock of what we had achieved over the night. Across the UK we have raised £850,000 so far. That is £190,000 more than last year, and last year did not involve spending the night in what was, by the end of the night, essentially a wet sock.
This year, perhaps more than any other year in recent memory, reinforced why it is so important that we endured the weather on Friday and achieved all that we did. For those to whom homelessness is very much a day-to-day reality, there is nowhere to go to dry-off and change your clothes after a night like last Friday. If it rains all day, then you get wet all day. And if it rains the day after, then you go through it all again. Through the work of Action for Children, the money that was raised last week will provide children and young people with the opportunity to work towards a better future away from the harsh realities of life on the street.
This year was the most successful event ever. But we are not willing to rest on our laurels. Because the regrettable truth is, that when we bed down for the night next October for Byte Night 2013, so will hundreds of homeless children and young people across the UK. And for as long as that is case, there is more that we need to do.
Ken Deeks is the founder of Byte Night. Since its inception in 1998, Byte Night has raised more than £5m towards Action for Children’s work providing vital help and support to vulnerable young people across the UK. Advice, budgeting skills and counselling, education and training programmes and vital accommodation are given to hundreds of young people at risk of homelessness every year. The Byte Night 2012 sleep out took place on Friday 5 October.