17 Oct 2013

A night under the stars for 'Byte Night'

Byte NightOn Friday 4 October more than 40 BT people slept rough in four cities – London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham – to raise at least £25,000 for Action for Children’s ‘Byte Night’.

The leading charity ‘sleep out’ event for individuals and teams from the IT, technology and innovation sector, Byte Night aims to raise awareness and tackle the root causes of homelessness amongst young people.

“Sleeping rough for one night is an experience – sleeping rough every night is wretched.”

The statistics around young homeless people are rather sobering. Action for Children estimates that each year, in the UK, 100,000 young people are homeless. Approximate one in seven will be sexually abused whilst one in three will attempt to take their own life.

Action for Children helps more than 250,000 children, young people, parents and carers through more than 650 projects across the UK.

The charity’s youth projects provide a wide range of support services to help young people avoid homelessness. These include emergency and homelessness support, supported lodgings for those leaving the care system and housing education programmes.

Their projects also deal with the issues that can lead to homelessness and help to change lives with vital independence skills, training opportunities and access to employment.

Urgent funding

Action for Children estimates that Byte Night has now raised an impressive £5.2 million since it began in 1998. However funds are urgently needed to help vulnerable families, young people in care and children dealing with abuse and neglect.

BT Global Services business manager Vernon Bubb supported the initiative by camping out with his colleagues in Potters Field, near London Bridge.

Ahead of the event Vernon explained how vital these fundraising initiatives are. He said: “The funds are used to care for the young homeless, particularly those who are forced to leave the local authority care system at 16 and end up with nowhere to go, or who run away from abusive homes.”

“Action for Children gathers them up, looks after them, and gives them the support they need to get their lives back on track.”

No place to call home

This was not Vernon’s first Byte Night. Vernon remembers last year’s event vividly: “It started raining at 7pm and didn’t stop until about 6am the following day”.

He said: “I was lucky because after rolling up my dripping sleeping bag, I was able to go home, shower and fall into bed – unlike thousands of young people who have to endure the misery and discomfort without the option of going home.”

Celebrity backing as Jenny Agutter joins in

The London sleep out was supported by Actress, and Action for Children Ambassador, Jenny Agutter. Here’s what she had to say:

“Sleeping out for one night is the least I can do for young homeless people. I want to raise awareness for their plight and through the fundraising efforts of Byte Night make it possible for Action for Children to give these young people a chance in life.

“After sleeping out I was able to go home to my family in the morning and take a shower and sleep in a comfortable bed. I am very aware that the young people sleeping rough do not have these things I take for granted, they are out night after night in bad weather and often dangerous places.”

Making sure all funds raised go to Byte Night

For Vernon, MyDonate’s free fundraising page means their team can raise as much money as possible for Action for Children.

He said: “I used MyDonate because I understand that it is the service that enables the charity to receive the most money in the shortest time.”

BT’s team fundraising page has raised more than £6,000 to date. View the team’s fundraising page.

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