COMMENT: CEO Sleepout shone a light on issue that won’t go away

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Nobody can really understand what sleeping rough night after night is like until they have been through it.

For those of us fortunate enough to live in centrally-heated homes with comfy beds and plentiful supplies of food, the unremitting misery of life on the streets is a world away.

But as increasing numbers of people are left without a roof over their heads and homelessness becomes more and more visible, we cannot ignore this issue in our midst.

So we applaud the Pompey CEO Sleepout initiative, where more than 60 business leaders from around the city bedded down for the night on the concrete floor of a stand at Fratton Park to raise awareness and tens of thousands of pounds for charities working to help the homeless.

Of course Monday was only one fairly mild night out of their comfort zone.

After it was over, they could have a shower and something to eat, change into their smart clothes and get back to normal life.

But, as News editor Mark Waldron says in his first-person piece today on p11, the CEO Sleepout was never intended to replicate life as a rough sleeper.

He explains: ‘None of us felt any the wiser to what life is like as a homeless person.

‘But we all knew we had joined together to play a small part in the fight against homelessness and poverty in our city.’

And that’s the key. The CEO Sleepout has shone a light on a problem that is simply too big to ignore.

We have to face up to the fact that homelessness today is a big issue. In January stark government figures revealed the numbers of rough sleepers in Portsmouth had increased by 14 per cent since 2016, to 42.

Society can no longer look the other way.