A TEAM of brave Ramsdens staff are set to swap their comfortable, warm beds for a night sleeping in the cold November air as part of a major fundraising push for Teesside food banks.
The 11-strong group are taking part in the Big Tees Sleepout on the night of Saturday, November 23 in the grounds of Middlesbrough College.
And the big-hearted fundraisers have been given an extra incentive as Ramsdens chairman Stewart Smith has promised to personally match whatever sponsorship cash they raise.
It will be the second Big Tees Sleepout of the year after a similar event in March helped raise more than £7,000 for Teesside homelessness charities.
And the Ramsdens team are asking those who sponsor them to be extra-generous for a fundraising event that will take them into unchartered territory.
Kirsteen Cudworth, the firm’s marketing manager, said: “Sleeping out on a freezing cold November night is not something we are able to train for. This fundraising event is getting us right out of our comfort zone – literally!
“Every day parents skip meals to feed their children and families are forced to choose between paying rent and eating. This is such a worthwhile cause.
“We’re all apprehensive about just how cold and uncomfortable we will be but all those taking part felt this was something they wanted to do to make a difference for those who are in desperate need this Christmas.
“Stewart’s generous offer is additional motivation to encourage us all to pester everyone we know to sponsor us.”
Stewart, who took part in the first ever CEO Sleepout outside Boro’s Riverside Stadium earlier this year, added: “I’m proud that so many of our staff have volunteered to give up their home comforts for the night. From experience, I know they are in for a night that will live long in the memory.”
The Big Tees Sleepout is being organised by Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, with support from Middlesbrough College.
With local food banks insisting that funds are desperately needed to provide emergency food to a growing number of people in financial crisis this Christmas, organisers hope the sleepout will raise £10,000.
They would like more Teessiders to join them in vouching to spend a night in the cold armed with no more than a sleeping bag and layers of warm clothing. Participants will have access to toilets and a drinks machine.
Andy Preston, chairman of the Philanthropic Foundation, said: “It’s fantastic that Ramsdens staff are joining dozens of others to brave the cold just for one night – but we’d love many more to sign up.”
Ramsdens staff joining Kirsteen at the Sleepout are Jack Jahan, Gemma Rogers, Becky Baker, Alison Whitfield, Kevin Leisk, Jessica Hazelwood, Charlotte O’Hare, Gill Graham, Sharron Gill and Tina Willans.
The Big Tees Sleepout takes place at Middlesbrough College on Saturday November 23 and Sunday November 24 from 7pm to 7am.
To sign up, for more information or to sponsor those taking part in the Big Tees Sleepout, visit www.bigteessidesleepout.co.uk.
Winner of the Heart of the Community award for the Teesside region in the prestigious North East Business Awards, Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation is a charitable movement committed to making Teesside a better place to live, work and do business.