Healthy competition is always a good motivator! Having 5 other colleagues from the Bowdon Business Club taking part in the CEO Sleepout on Monday 4th November, raising awareness of homelessness and money for our chosen charity, Walking With the Wounded, ensured a determination to see this challenge through.
Over the weekend, I had checked my kit and worked out the layers of clothing I would wear (long johns, vest, long sleeved T-shirt, short sleeved T-shirt, jumper, golf over jacket, waterproof trousers). I was going to be prepared for any eventuality. My only problem was finding a sleeping bag that would fit me and wasn’t 40 years old! I have grown a little over the years!
The day of the sleep over arrived
Monday the 4th November dawned with pouring rain, which didn’t really stop all day. After a pasta-based meal (slow release energy!) and some last-minute fund raising, I made my way to Old Trafford Cricket ground where the event would take place.
Overall there were about 78 participants from various businesses in the North West and a handful from Leeds. The rain seemed to have stopped and it was not feeling as cold as I had expected. Representatives from various charities around Manchester supporting people who are homeless gave us an insight into the issues that lead to homelessness and the impact it has, as an ever-decreasing spiral from which it can be impossible for many to emerge without the support of these charities. None of us had taken on this challenge expecting to get an idea what sleeping rough was like from just one night in a protected environment. It does, however, make you think, when you wander to the loo at 3am in the morning and don’t even have to think about who you might meet around the corner, or who is going to nick my stuff, just how vulnerable people become in that situation.
Ultimately, for us the evening became a chance to spend quality time with each other chatting, until we wandered to our (respective!) sleeping bags at about 1am, very thankful and very much aware we still have no real concept from our comfortable lives, of the isolation, trauma and vulnerability those who are homeless experience virtually every hour of their day (even when they are sleeping).
Many will think sleeping out for a night in a stand at a cricket ground is no real hardship and they would be right. Truthfully the greatest hardship is turning over in the night and realising, as your shoulder hits the concrete floor, you don’t have a sprung mattress underneath you. Having said all that, I was really heartened by the responses from my sponsors, who I was worried may have questioned the word “Challenge” (I mean, it’s not running the London Marathon, or the Cumbrian Challenge as Chris pointed out in the morning!).
“Great cause” “fantastic Andy, such a worthy cause” “a cause that needs as much raising of awareness as possible”. They all got it.
For me, and I am sure for the rest of my Bowdon Business Club colleagues as well as the other participants, it was all about raising awareness and a not insubstantial amount of money for VERY WORTHY CAUSES.As a club, I believe we raised close on £8,000 and fund raising is still coming in. Overall the event in Manchester raised £46,500 at last count. The next step for people is to recognise fund raising is only one aspect. These charities survive on the volunteers who give their time to help the work of the charities. Look around your local area. There are plenty of opportunities in throughout the North West to support this tragedy in our midst, such as Winter Watch in Bolton where I volunteer. All these charities have one thing in common……..a lack of volunteers. What can you do to help?
A really big thank you to my sponsors. If you would like to donate, please go to