Have you heard of CEO Sleepout?
HomeHero CEO Kenny Alegbe — like so many entrepreneurs — has a rigorous bedtime routine.
Tomorrow’s to-do list, review goals, stretch, unplug, read.
However, when Kenny decided to take part in CEO Sleepout, the luxury of routine was out the window. In its place came preparation for a night sleeping outside to raise money for people sleeping rough most nights.
CEO Sleepout is a UK-wide initiative that invites CEOs to sacrifice one night in bed to sleep out in the cold and raise money for local charities working hard to alleviate homelessness and poverty.
In the case of HomeHero, we were invited by Dan Atkins, CEO of Buses4Homeless, to join him (in the rain) to raise money for his initiative, refurbishing decommissioned London buses to create spaces for eating, sleeping, wellbeing and learning.
It was bitterly cold, uncomfortable, and took several days to recover from but what our team experienced that night pales in comparison to what the 8,855 people currently sleeping rough in London go through every night.
So, if you or a business leader you know wants to get involved next year, here’s a rundown to help you prep….
What happens during CEO Sleepout?
On Monday 14th October around 60 CEOs met up at 7.45pm at the chosen London venue — in this case a cricket pitch — with sleeping bags, raincoats, matts and lots of layers.
We then heard from a panel of speakers doing amazing things in the local community, with a keynote from Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, fire officer and psychological scientist, who spent years on the street as a teenager and spoke about the volatile, repetitive trap of finding temporary housing only to find herself on the streets again, as well as how selling the Big Issue was pivotal. [You can read more about her story here.]
It was then on to the soup kitchen to fuel up, before being escorted outside to a designated area to set up sleeping bags.
Do you sleep?
A big part of the night is about continuing to fundraise during the sleepout itself, whether that’s badgering friends on Whatsapp with picture evidence or posting all over social. There was a sense of comradery until around 1am when the need to sleep descended on the group and arrangements were made to make the concrete a little more comfortable.
It’s wasn’t. And that’s a good thing.
Because while it didn’t come close to sleeping on the streets in London during October, the experience brings you just a bit closer to the reality of not being able to keep warm and feel safe at night.
The sleepout went on till 6am, after which the CEOs packed up their stuff and headed off to their respective offices for an unproductive day of work.
Why did we join the CEO Sleepout?
It goes without saying that every person deserves to have a home. For Kenny and team member Nana, the decision was very much motivated by an ongoing commitment to engaging with the issue of homelessness; Nana served on the committee for House Of St Barnabas for several years and Kenny has built volunteering into the company benefits. It’s also at the forefront of our minds as a company as we build out a product for those lucky enough to have a home to tend to.
When companies take part — and blog about — initiatives like this they are often met with skepticism. Rightly so in a world where doing good is often about PR and brand initiatives.
However, consider this. There are far easier ways for companies to achieve philanthropic quotas for the year. There are tables to sponsor, and donations to make. What is arguably more meaningful is making it a part of the culture you’re trying to build and giving your time — something you can’t get back — to engage with the causes you believe in.
With our volunteering benefits, if anyone on the team wants company support in engaging with initiatives like CEO Sleepout, we kit them out and send them on their way.
How can you or your organisation get involved next year?
If you or your organisation are interested in CEO Sleepout or volunteering for Buses4Homeless we’d be happy to make a personal introduction.
Just email Nana Wereko-Brobby on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send over information.
HomeHero is a digital home manager, taking care of your chores, bills, maintenance and admin, to free up your time for what matters most.