Each year on Byte Night, the tech industry raises money for young people. Ken Deeks explains why you should join in this year
Picture this: a chilly October night, maybe it’s raining, maybe not, but wintry weather has certainly arrived. Armed with a sleeping bag and a bit of tarpaulin you bed down in the open and try to get some sleep under the stars. It sounds inauspicious doesn’t it? But the good news is you are joined by hundreds of peers from the tech world and other leading businesses, and in the morning you can return to a warm home, welcoming family and stocked fridge. This isn’t an option for the thousands of young people who experience homelessness every year, and that’s why I help to run Byte Night. This annual sleep out brings together hardy, kind hearted souls from a range of businesses to raise money for Action for Children, with proceeds supporting services that help young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Everyone needs a home
Every year thousands of young people in this country face sleeping on the streets or moving from sofa to sofa after having to leave home. As you would imagine, this makes it hard for them to stay in education or find a job and leaves them vulnerable to mental health problems, addiction and violence. New government figures show that 15,000 young people were registered homeless with councils in England last year. Only a fraction of the true number of homeless young people are captured by this statistic as many are not officially recognised by local authorities. Across the UK, it is estimated that around 80,000 young people experience homelessness each year. The situation is serious, but it’s not hopeless. Action for Children helps vulnerable young people in a number of ways – from providing safe places to stay at short notice, to working with families on the edge of falling apart. This is particularly important in preventing homelessness, as family breakdown is a main factor in two thirds of youth homelessness cases. If you’re wondering how the tech and business sectors fit in, then think about the big problems that the industry tackles. When I started Byte Night 16 years ago the prospect of the Millennium Bug was driving feverish efforts to avoid technical meltdown. Today we face challenges around security and sustainability, while the volume and distribution of data collection and processing increases massively. Technology is an innovative and energetic industry and I wanted to tap into that to solve the massive social issue of homelessness. If you join in Byte Night this year, you’ll be part of a fundraising effort working to raise £1.3 million across eight locations in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It’s an ambitious target and reaching it is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication, but there are plenty of opportunities to have fun while you think up inventive ways to encourage colleagues to sign up or donate. Don’t just take it from me – each of the Byte Night locations will soon be host to a launch event, where you can hear from seasoned participants about their experiences of sleeping out and the difference you could make. Tech Week will be sleeping out. Why not join us? You can find your nearest Byte Night launch event and reserve a free place now!