BUSINESS people from across the Thames Valley recently had a night under the stars as part of an annual campaign to help children who face homelessness.
Byte Night returned for a 13th year earlier this month and saw almost 100 people sleep in Forbury Gardens in aid of charity Action For Children.
The evening aimed to raise more than £1 million nationally in support of the charity’s services.
More than 1,100 people took part in the event, held on Friday, October 5, at 11 locations across the country.
Those in the Reading sleepout included teams from CrowdStrike, Barclays, RSM UK, Tech4Pets, Intelex and the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce.
This year, Action For Children is marking its 150th anniversary and says that there is an emerging childhood crisis, with young people facing unparalleled social pressures at the same time as a drastic reduction in children’s services.
It added that Government figures show there are currently more than 126,000 homeless children across the UK. The charity’s research suggests that poverty and homelessness is one of the top three current issues that children in Thames Valley are concerned about.
More than half (54%) of children in the region said they are worried about people suffering because they don’t have enough money, and are at risk of homelessness.
Chair of the Thames Valley Byte Night board and Sunningdale resident, Sally Hanson, said: “It’s always a big challenge, but in the morning, everyone went home to their warm beds – but there are too many young people in the Thames Valley who are living without this choice.
“No child or young person should have to face the trauma of homelessness – they shouldn’t be sofa surfing, they shouldn’t be in B&Bs, and they certainly shouldn’t be on the streets. This is a critical issue in our region, as it is across the country, and Byte Night is a chance to support some of the young people in our society who need it most.
“One night really can make a lifetime’s difference and funds raised will help us support children and young people to have a safe and happy childhood.”
Action for Children’s chief executive, Julie Bentley, said: “We want every child to have a safe and happy childhood, but sadly too many young people are falling into homelessness which leaves lasting scars on their mental health, education and relationships with friends and family.
“Our critical work with vulnerable young people and families helps prevent the tragedy of homelessness by tackling the issues that can lead to young people ending up without a roof over their heads. From individual support for teenagers to working with families facing difficulties, our frontline services can prevent problems from spiralling out of control.
“The country is facing a crisis of childhood and every penny raised from Byte Night helps Action for Children support some of our most vulnerable children and families. But we are also urging the government to take urgent steps to tackle the root causes of the problem by establishing a National Childhood Strategy to ensure all vulnerable children are well and safe.”
Donations for Byte Night can still be taken: £10 can be given to Action For Children by texting the word BYTE to 70175
To find out more about Byte Night, visit bytenight.org.uk or contact the Byte Night team on email@example.com