21 days until we launch the 2018 awards

Sleeping under the sky

| Amy Sandys
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While obtaining exact figures on the number of homeless people in the UK is near-impossible, estimates suggest a dramatic rise over the past five years. According to homelessness charity Crisis, government statistics put the number of rough sleepers at 3,569 in 2015 – double the figures for 2010.

CEO Sleepout UK, founded in December 2013 by business and charity owner, Andy Preston, is an emerging UK charity which aims to tackle homelessness and raise donations. It also focuses on the issues leading to homelessness in young people, and how these can be addresses.

On 31 October, over 200 business leaders and high-profile figures took to the stands of Lord’s Cricket Ground to take part in the biggest sleepout the charity has experienced so far. Preston says, “This was undoubtedly the greatest and best CEO Sleepout we have ever done. The turnout was amazing, the venue is stunning and we are hoping fundraising records will be smashed.”

Owned by Marylebone Cricket Club, the prolific venue of Lord’s attracted several recognisable faces keen to raise money and awareness of youth homelessness. Among these was ex-England footballer, Sol Campbell, and Conservative MPs David Burrowes, Stephen Hammond and David Mackintosh.

Campbell says, “Nobody is pretending that one night sleeping outside is anything like being homeless. But we wanted to get involved to support the Cardinal Hume Centre and the other charities who do some amazing work to prevent homelessness.”

He continues, “Every day in London we see people who are homeless and by being part of tonight’s event, we hope to shine the spotlight on the issue as well as raising some much-needed cash.”

Around £180,000 was raised through the event. The total will be split between UK homelessness charities CEO Sleepout UK, Depaul, the Cardinal Hume Centre and YMCA North London.

Mike Gatting, 2014 MCC president and former England captain, says, “This was a brilliant idea to raise funds and awareness for homelessness in the UK – and 200 VIPs sleeping out in the stands at the Home of Cricket was quite a sight.”

Homelessness is not confined only to those sleeping on the streets. Statutory and ‘single or hidden’ homelessness, where individuals rely on councils or the goodwill of others for overnight shelter is also on the rise. In response to these growing figures, charitable causes such as CEO Sleepout are doing more than ever to try and alleviate the struggles associated with being homeless.