Sleepout gives Teesside’s needy a festive boost

November 26th, 2013

Fundraisers take part in the second Big Tees Sleepout hosted by Middlesbrough College.

FOOD banks and homelessness charities will be given a Christmas boost ahead of the festive season after big-hearted fundraisers braved a night under the stars to raise more than £16,000.

Nearly 100 hardy souls slept rough for the night in the second Big Tees Sleepout to raise much-needed funds.

Organised by Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, the event was hosted by Middlesbrough College.

It was the second time this year that the college had supported a sponsored sleepout after a similar event raised £7,000 in March.

Foundation chairman Andy Preston said: “We raised some money to do some great work, we raised awareness of homeless and other marginalised groups and we have gone some way to showing the wider population that you can make big things happen when good people get together.

“What was really important about this fundraiser was that we are now going to be able to help stock food banks and support a range of homelessness groups across Teesside in the approach to Christmas.”

Big Tees Sleepout participants gave up the comfort and warmth of their own beds for the night to help local food banks provide much-needed provisions for struggling Teesside families.

They spent a night in the cold November air armed with just a sleeping bag, layers of warm clothing and access to toilets and a drinks machine.

Among those taking part was North-East lawyer Deb McGargle, who also took part in the UK’s first ever CEO Sleepout, which raised £30,000 in March.

This time she asked sponsors to back her by donating food instead of cash, succeeding in collating enough food for 3,000 meals.

Local food bank workers say the funds are desperately needed to provide emergency food to a growing number of people in financial crisis.

Big Tees Sleepout co-founder Joanna Wake added: “We brought the community together, raised awareness of important issues and we’ve now got money to tackle those issues. It’s a great result for Teesside.”

Nigel Perrott, project manager for Middlesbrough food bank, said: “A lot of people are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. So many families are in a position where it is really easy for them to fall into crisis.

“People are having to find extra money to pay for their spare room, their council tax, for the increase cost of heating and lighting their homes, so there is no room to save for when something goes wrong.

“They can easily find themselves in a predicament of having to ask ‘Do I keep the house warm or buy food?’ It really is that tight for some people.”

Mr Perrott said food banks in Middlesbrough, Redcar, Billingham and Hartlepool are in constant need of non-perishable food that enables them to provide families in crisis with three days’ worth of emergency food.

Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation is a charitable movement committed to making Teesside a better place to live, work and do business.

Winner of the Heart of the Community award for the Teesside region in the prestigious North East Business Awards, the Philanthropic Foundation also organised a Tyneside CEO Sleepout that raised £60,000, 15% of which will return to Teesside.

A CEO Sleepout will take place in Cardiff in March, while talks are also taking place to organise a similar event in London.

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