This year’s Byte Night, the IT industry’s charity sleep-out, was the 17th annual fundraiser for Action for Children. You might think that after doing it 16 times before we could organise it in our sleep – saving up some rest for the night itself – but you’d be wrong. There’s no sitting back and relaxing, every year we aim to be bigger and better than before. This year certainly lived up to that.
When I started writing this, Byte Night 2014 had just passed the £1m mark for the second consecutive year, and the donations are still coming in. There were more than 1,300 sleepers this year, the biggest participation yet.
Part of this growth was down to adding a new, eighth sleep out site in Bristol, which alone drew 130 sleepers, a fantastic achievement from a standing start and one I’m sure will be bettered next year.
Byte Night fundraising doesn’t start on that evening in October though. Our fundraisers have been going since February, throwing parties, spinning static bikes and growing beards to encourage more donations from friends, colleagues and passers-by.
Many of them also joined in “pyjamming” - wearing their pyjamas in public and posing for photos at landmarks around the UK to promote Byte Night to new audiences online and in the local press.
All this fun has a serious point though. Around 80,000 young people go through the ordeal of becoming homeless in the UK every year. This exposes them to danger of violence and increases their risk of mental health problems.
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Some of them eventually have the choice to go home or seek security with wider family or friends, but for others it can be the start of years of hardship. Part of Action for Children’s work aims to stop young people from becoming homeless in the first place, especially by preventing family breakdown which is the biggest cause of youth homelessness.
The charity also works to get young homeless people out of danger and back on their feet, providing accommodation and emotional support at projects across the UK – like New Horizons just outside Edinburgh and West Suffolk Shared Housing.
If this has inspired you, why not your make New Year’s Resolution now and save yourself a job come that bleary morning on 1 January? Registrations for Byte Night 2015 have already opened – will you join us for the UK’s largest corporate sleep-out? To find out more about Byte Night have a look at the website.
Ken Deeks is the founder of Byte Night and director of the Amber Group.