High-ranking police officers, a prison governor and local business leaders are planning to spend a night sleeping rough in the cloisters of Durham Cathedral.
The event, organised by CEO Sleepout, aims to raise awareness of the links between homelessness, crime and reoffending. The event will also raise cash for homeless charities.
CEO Sleepout is a countrywide initiative that encourages top-level managers and leaders to get involved in fighting poverty in the regions where they are based.
Those planning to sleep out include the governor of Durham Prison Tim Allen, as well as Durham Constabulary’s chief constable Mike Barton and temporary chief superintendent Kerrin Wilson.
Around 40 people will be taking part in the sleepout, which will be held on the night of April 24th from 8.00 pm to 6.00 am.
Mr Barton said, “Sometimes we underestimate how easy it is for young people with troubled backgrounds to slip into a life below the radar of normal society.”
“Once they’re sleeping rough, it’s hard to get an address, a job, benefits. It’s a slippery slope.”
“From our perspective in policing, young people who are sleeping rough are putting themselves at significant risk of being preyed on by dangerous offenders.”
Mr Allen said, “One of our aims is to reduce reoffending and homelessness is a real barrier to that. Anything we can do to give them a house increases their chances of leading law-abiding lives.”
In addition to the Durham event, CEO sleepouts will be taking place in location across Britain, such as Nottingham, Manchester and London.
Andy Preston, the Middlesbrough-born founder of CEO Sleepout – who will be joining the Durham event – said, “Homelessness isn’t just about sleeping in doorways – that’s the tip of the iceberg.”
“It’s people who are sleeping at the backs of supermarkets or on someone’s sofa for a week before moving on to the next one.”
“The CEO Sleepout is a great way to raise money. It gives senior level executives the chance to have fun doing something away from the boardroom whilst raising funds for organisations that support those living in poverty.”
“Durham Cathedral itself has been a place of sanctuary for almost 1,000 years and continues to provide support for those in need.”
I had a massively privileged 45 minutes in Durham Cathedral today
Plannning #ceosleepoutdurham with the cathedral team
Happening 24/4/2017 pic.twitter.com/PYPUKjDeAR
— Andy Preston (@preston_andy) December 20, 2016
A spokesperson for the north-east charity Changing Lives, which has seen as increase in people accessing homelessness services in recent years, said, “I think people who may have been just about coping have, with cuts to services and welfare reform, found themselves pushed over the edge into homelessness.”
“We really appreciate people fundraising and one of the big issues is helping businesses understand what the issues around homelessness are.”
Charities that will benefit from Durham’s CEO Sleepout include The Cardinal Hume Centre and The Fork (in The Road), a new restaurant in Middlesbrough that gives opportunities to recovering addicts, ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed.
You can donate to CEO Sleepout by going to www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/durhamcathedralceosleepoutdurham2017.