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Rough night raises £30,000 for young homeless

A 17-strong team from electricity distribution company UK Power Networks spent a damp and chilly night sleeping rough in the shadow of London’s Tower Bridge – and raised more than £30,000 for Action for Children.

From Press releases - 6 October 2014 12:00 AM

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A 17-strong team from electricity distribution company UK Power Networks spent a damp and chilly night sleeping rough in the shadow of London’s Tower Bridge – and raised more than £30,000 for Action for Children.

The colleagues, including director Andrew Bilecki, were taking part in the charity’s national Byte Night event, when workers from the IT industry sleep outdoors to raise funds and awareness of the plight of homeless youngsters.

This year’s was a record-breaker, with some 1,500 people taking part at locations across the country. The London event was the biggest.

Reporting and communications analyst Katie Jeffrey organised the UK Power Networks team. She and her fellow rough sleepers all work at the power company’s Newington House HQ in Elephant and Castle, London, or its offices in Crawley.

They included Nicole Conyers, who lives in Gravesend, and Meghana Garg, of Sevenoaks. After a fundraising evening of auctions, raffles and quizzes, they settled down for an uncomfortable night in the grounds of Potters Fields Park.

Katie said: “We didn’t get much sleep. It was noisy, cold and damp but I thought, ‘I’m here with security, on grass not concrete, and I have a warm sleeping bag. Then I can go home, have a hot shower and get into my bed. Homeless people have to do this night after night’. 

“It really brought it home to me. It was hard but it was nothing compared with what homeless people have to cope with. It’s a great cause and I’m very proud of the money we have raised.”

Nicole said: “It was a well-organised, fantastic event that really brought home the struggles that some people face day to day.”

The IT team had started fundraising with cake sales and dress-down days over the summer but the sleep-out was their main event. Support from friends and colleagues has meant they have nearly doubled their original target of £17,000. Katie said: “The total is still rising and people can still donate at our justgiving page.”

Director Andrew Bilecki was also proud of his team. He said: “It was sobering to think that so many people endure sleeping out in all weathers without the comfort, support and security that we enjoyed at this event – and without somewhere to go back to wash and sleep the next day.

“I’m impressed that so many of my team took part – the least I could do was join them – and I hope the money we have raised together could help change things for youngsters who have to spend every night like that.”