Sunday 28 December 2014

Bosses sleep rough for charity

Published 28/03/2014 | 07:12

Some of Britain's top business leaders during the CEO Sleepout with Action for Children, in London's Paternoster Square
Some of Britain's top business leaders during the CEO Sleepout with Action for Children, in London's Paternoster Square

Chief executives swapped the boardroom for the cold outdoors as they slept rough to raise awareness of increasing youth homelessness, and to raise money for charity.

Thirteen of Britain's top business leaders spent the night outside in sleeping bags in Paternoster Square, in front of the London Stock Exchange as part of the first ever "CEO Sleepout" for Action for Children.

Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of the charity - who started his new job only four days ago - was joined by 12 other chief executives, including ITN's John Hardie, Dell's Tim Griffin, and Barclaycard Europe's David Chan, as well as Mike Tobin OBE, founder of the event and head of TelecityGroup.

Their challenge was to raise £10,000 each and a total of at least £130,000 to help vulnerable young people. The charity tweeted that "over £100,000" had been raised.

Mr Hardie, who made a total of £1.2 million in 2012 alone and has an average remuneration since 2009 of £785,000, joked that it was surprising how many of his "friends" had been hoping for it to rain.

He tweeted: "Compared to reality of young homeless it has been luxury. Not just the cold, the vulnerability. We had watchers. Children have to 'sleep' one eye open.

"I expect some disappointment that I was not severely rained upon."

Mr Tobin said he came up with the idea for the event because he wanted to something "bigger" after being involved for seven years with Byte Night, the IT industry's annual sleep-out in support of the charity.

He said it was about raising awareness of the dangers young people face. "We have security but if you sleep in a tunnel, there's no security," he said. "Imagine how scary it is for a child."

Mr Tobin said they hoped the event would happen every year, while Sir Tony said they wanted numbers to double every year, with each chief executive inviting another to take part.

Sir Tony said it was important for an event like this to highlight "the big issue that homelessness is a growing problem, and there's a housing crisis".

Every year, the charity says, a t least 100,000 children and young people experience homelessness in the UK.

And it estimates that one in five homeless people is a care leaver, and a third of young people who find themselves homeless will attempt to commit suicide.

Sir Tony added: "In a narrow sense, chief executives raise money but it's also about using their reputation and personal clout to get other people's focus because homelessness has never been greater."

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