Almost everyone I know gives money to charity, either through regular donations, putting cash in a tin that’s rattled in front of them, or sponsoring people who do amazing things for a good cause.
Supporting something you believe in enough to give up your time or money can be a real labour of love, so giving up your bed for one night sounds small and simple by comparison. But inspiring almost 1,000 people across an industry to join you and raise money while doing so - that feels like it could be the start of something which could make a real difference.
It all started with a tweet
Like most people in the mortgage industry who head up field-based teams, I spend a lot of my life on trains, at events and sleeping in hotels. It sounds pretty glamorous, but the reality of being away from your family almost every week and the joys of delayed trains and inconsiderate fellow passengers can take their toll.
Equally, I have a safe place to sleep every night and even after a horrendous Friday night journey, I know I’m going home to my family where I will be warm, fed and welcomed.
I admit it - I’ve been guilty of taking this for granted.
That’s why Brightstar CEO Rob Jupp’s tweet one night in August really hit home. He’d noticed how many rough sleepers he’d seen that day and was outraged. I suggested an industry sleepout to raise both awareness and money for homelessness charities. Before we knew it, the idea grew arms and legs and had a life of its own.
Giving up your bed for one night won’t ever replicate what it’s like to be homeless, so the sleep out is more about raising people’s consciousness of how serious and complex an issue rough sleeping has become.
Homelessness - the stats
The stats on homelessness aren’t straightforward. There are official figures for people classed as statutory homeless with their local authority but some charities estimate that almost 62% of single homeless people are hidden and not included in the official figures because they’re in squats or sofa surfing.
On top of this, a huge number of young people approach their local authority for help because they don’t have somewhere to stay tonight or because they don’t feel safe where they are. The numbers are heartbreaking - 86,000 young people asked for help just in the last year.
As an industry, we’re here to help people buy their dream house. We help them finance their first time buyer pad, secure the best rates for their remortgage or help them trade up to their happy ever after home, so who better to shine a light on this issue?
The support we’ve received from across the mortgage industry has been overwhelming, and if we achieve anything near what we’re aiming for, we’ll have helped some of these people find somewhere safe to sleep and raised awareness of an issue that’s so close to home, but so often overlooked.
We’d love it if you got on board to help us fundraise for our chosen charity End Youth Homelessness. For ideas about how to raise money, check out mortgagesleepout.com - or you can make a donation to our justgiving page here.