Boro legend Bernie Slaven was among more than a hundred who braved rain and cold to sleep under the stars to help fight homelessness.
The third Big Tees Sleepout, organised by the Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, took place overnight in the grounds of Middlesbrough College. Money raised from the event, which saw fundraisers wrap up in sleeping bags and sleep on cardboard, will go towards food banks, soup kitchens, hostels for the homeless and others in desperate need across Teesside.
Speaking before the event, Bernie said: “I’ll be brutally honest, I’m not looking forward to it. But there are people not just in England but here in Teesside who have to do this every night so I’m sure I can put up with the cold for one night to raise awareness of the problem."
“It’s 2014 for goodness sake. It’s a disgrace that anyone is homeless.”
Father Paul Farrer and members of the Middlesbrough Youth Mission raised &5,000 in the last sleepout in October – and instead of asking sponsors for more money, they’ve invited them along to join them on the sleepout.
Sharon McIntyre, of central Middlesbrough, brought along her children Kieran, 15, and Siobhan, 13, who both go to Macmillan Academy. She said: “We wanted to do it as a family, so that we can all see what it is like to be homeless. We have it all at home; often people don’t think of those without one.”
Judith Caley, who was first to find a spot outside Middlesbrough College with hers friends Val Hamilton and Kerry McCarthy, said: “People shouldn’t be homeless these days. I try my best to help out food banks and this is something else I wanted to do to raise money.”
A team from Hunters Estate Agent on Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough – Georgina Evans, Jordan Clayton and Lisa Preston – were also taking part. Lisa said: “We see people come in to rent who have been involved with homeless agencies so it is nice to be able to help out and raise money and awareness about the issue.”
Co-founders of the Big Tees Sleepouts – which have so far raised &27,000 – Andy Preston and Joanna Wake, said that the events mean money can go to the smallest organisations that are making a difference on Teesside.
By Mike Brown
The Northern Echo