BUSINESS leaders have hailed a sleepout in aid of the homeless a ‘success’ in raising money and awareness.
More than 60 business men and women from around the city took part in the Pompey CEO Sleepout last night to raise money for a trio of charities.
CEO Sleepout founder Andy Preston bedded down with the likes of Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones, Portsmouth FC chief executive Mark Catlin and The News’ Editor Mark Waldron to raise money for Pompey in the Community, The Society of St James and the national CEO Sleepout.
Andy said: ‘I have done about 25 of these sleepouts and I think for this one there has been a great spirit and unlike some cities Portsmouth has felt much more publicly supported.
‘We don’t have a final figure yet but I am hoping we raise close to £60,000 as that would be about £1,000 per head which would be great to give to the trio of charities.’
Trevor Pickup from The Society of St James was also snuggled up on the concrete floor of Pompey FC’s home last night.
He said: ‘It is so great to have the support of so many prominent business leaders for this cause and the money they have raised for us we hope to use to open another house in the city.’
Carole Damper, chief executive at the Roberts Centre, which offers assistance to families facing homelessness, has raised nearly £300 so far.
Carole said: ‘For us we were in a stadium with others and a security guard so we did not have to worry about someone stealing our things and being attacked which is a reality for many homeless people.
‘People need to care about each other a bit more.’
Some unlucky participants received an unwelcome shower when sprinklers at the stadium came on overnight.
City council leader Donna Jones said: ‘It was cold, it was uncomfortable and you become heightened to every noise around you and it makes you realise what the people in this city go through.
‘But I am really pleased that the council has enough beds in its winter shelters for the people in the city who need a bed for the night.’
Portsmouth FC chief executive Mark Catlin added: ‘Portsmouth is a great city and we are like a family.
‘Although we may have our disagreements, we are a community who works together for causes like this and despite it being a big city it has a village feel.’
It comes after the release of stark government figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in January which found the numbers of rough sleepers in Portsmouth had increased by 14 per cent since 2016, to 42.
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Mark Cubbon, who has so far raised over £1,400 for the cause, said: ‘We are trying to raise awareness of the problems the homeless face as well raise money.
‘It was only one night in the cold for us but for many people this is their reality everyday so we all hope through the sleepout that everyone will get behind this good cause.’
The national fundraising initiative was founded in 2013 and since 1,400 executives have taken part raising £1.4m for homeless causes.
Chief executive of Pompey in the Community Clare Martin said: ‘It started off hilarious, as everyone was chatting and having a good time and then when it came round to actually sleeping on cold concrete the reality set in and it was definitely a shock to everyone just how cold it was. Given it was a mild night I can’t begin to imagine what the dead of winter is like for people on the streets.’
The News’ editor Mark Waldron also took part in the sleepout and wrote about his experience.
He added: ‘The purpose of this sleepout was to get as many people together in aid of the homeless of our city, to think about what they go through and raise money to help services in our city support the people who need it most.’