Portsmouth’s top bosses to sleep under the stars to support city homeless

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FROM the harsh cold nights to having to rest on solid concrete, it’s a tough life living out on the streets.

In a bid to support the rough sleepers in Portsmouth, the CEO Sleepout will be making a return to Fratton Park on Thursday, April 4.

From left, Mark Cubbon, chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust; Clare Martin from Pompey In The Community; Mark Waldron, editor of The News; Cllr. Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council and Mark Catlin, CEO Portsmouth Football Club - at last year's CEO Sleepout. Picture: Malcolm Wells

From left, Mark Cubbon, chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust; Clare Martin from Pompey In The Community; Mark Waldron, editor of The News; Cllr. Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council and Mark Catlin, CEO Portsmouth Football Club - at last year's CEO Sleepout. Picture: Malcolm Wells

The event, which last year saw businessmen and women from across the region sleep under the lights, not only raised money for Portsmouth’s homeless, but also helped raise awareness of the problems they face every single night.

Last year’s event raised £47,000 for The Society of St James, Salvation Army, Southern Domestic Abuse Service, Portsmouth Foodbank and more.

Editor of The News, Mark Waldron, slept under the stars last year and will be repeating the challenge in April. He said: ‘It really brings it home what rough sleepers go through night after night. Last year’s sleepout was a great success in terms of raising money and hopefully we can surpass that this year.’

Clare Martin from Pompey In The Community also took part last year, and has already registered for this year’s event.

She said: ‘The CEO Sleepout was a massive success last year – and was a real wake-up call for a lot of people.

‘I thought it would be quite simple to sleep outdoors, but feeling the wind on your face and the exceptional cold really helps you understand what these people are going through.

‘For the people who took part, they could go home and have a snooze afterwards – but for homeless people that just isn’t an option.

‘A lot of people are realising how big of an impact projects like this can have, and how they can get people off the streets and supporting themselves.’

Former Portsmouth City Council leader, Cllr Donna Jones, also attended the event last year.

She said: ‘It’s really important to raise awareness of those who are sleeping out on the streets every night.

‘Together we raised thousands of pounds last year and hopefully people will be able to show similar generosity this year.

‘It wasn’t a particularly cold night but it’s a very sobering experience; it makes you think about those who have found themselves with nowhere else to sleep than a shop doorway.

‘The thing that’s important to remember is that it isn’t just a case of accessing a bed – we have plenty of those in Portsmouth – but getting the mental health support that these people so desperately need.

‘I’m hoping to be down there myself again this year; my advice to CEOs who are interested in taking part is to wrap up as warm as you possibly can.’