CEO sleepout 1

TYNESIDE executives will raise funds for a range of homelessness charities when they sleep out for the night beside Newcastle United's pitch at St James' Park.

The CEO Sleepout will see businessmen and women swap the luxury of their comfortable beds for sleeping bags and layers of clothing as they try to stay warm throughout a cold night on Thursday October 17th.

In a joint initiative between CEO Sleepout UK and Newcastle United Foundation, up to 50 local business leaders will sleep rough pitchside at St James' Park.

CEO Sleepout chairman Andy Preston said: "This is an incredible event with its roots here in the North-East but quickly becoming of national business significance, as we believe it to be only the second such sleepout held in the UK.

"We want it to become an annual event that spreads to other areas across the UK. Indeed, we're already in discussions about holding a similar event in London.

"Most people have done a sponsored run or something similar, which are fantastic to do, but we all know what we're letting ourselves in for. But the sleepout means we're very deliberately asking business leaders to - quite literally - get out of their comfort zones.

"With the extremely generous support of the Newcastle United Foundation, we aim to raise awareness of homelessness issues and generate vital funds to support our society's most needy."

"A similar event, the first of its type in the UK, raised £30,000 for Teesside homeless charities when it was held at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium in February. With a business community many times the size, Tyneside should be able to smash that figure in aid of some very special homelessness causes.

"It won't be easy, as it will be a cold and uncomfortable night without much sleep but I can promise the executives who take part an experience that will live with them for the rest of their lives."

Kate Bradley, Head of Newcastle United Foundation:

"Newcastle United Foundation is delighted to support this initiative and I have pledged to join the sleepout. Through our own projects we know first hand how football can tackle important issues in our community, raise funds and awareness"

Cash raised during the sponsored sleepout will fund a number of homelessness charities on Tyneside including the formation of Newcastle Homeless Football Club.

Following the successful launch of a similar club on Teesside, Newcastle Homeless Football Club will seek to improve the health, confidence and life chances of homeless people across Tyneside. Further funds will go towards helping to complete the documentary on homelessness that Tyneside filmmaker Lee Halpin lost his life in trying to make earlier this year. Lee's childhood friend, corporate finance executive Abu Ali, who is helping to organise and taking part in the CEO Sleepout in memory of the 27-year-old, who died of hypothermia whilst sleeping rough in a derelict Newcastle building as part of a documentary he was making to experience what it was like to be homeless.

To sign up for the CEO Sleepout or for more details, visit www.ceosleepoutuk.com