Byte Night Sleep Out Fears Recession Pressure

The recession could increase poverty in the UK – it also means the IT industry’s charity sleep-out, Byte Night, will be working harder

Byte Night, the IT industry charity that raises money for homeless young people, will be taking to the streets in October, but organisers have expressed fear that fund raising may be harder this year due to the recession – even though there may be greater need than ever.

Last year, around 800 people from the IT industry slept out of doors in Byte Night, to raise £540,000 for homeless young people’s charity, Action for Children. But this year, organisers warn that getting money may be tougher than in 2009.

Will the recession sap enthusiasm?

“On the way into a recession, people still have the energy for extra-curricular activity, but the enthusiasm for doing things may lag,” said Byte Night organiser Alwyn Jones, a founder of Parity training. “The market is picking up and the uncertainty of election is over, so charities may think they don’t have to work so hard to get money – but I think this could be our hardest year.  Companies will be cautious about spending money, and hiring people, so they will also be cautious about spending money on charity.”

DaVid Trhelfall launches Byte Night in Manchester: click for Youtube video

At the same time, the need is more pressing than ever, as actor David Threlfall said, launching the Manchester Byte Night event: “In this city, the instance of child poverty is one in four – in some areas of the city it is one in two.”

In the last thirteen years Byte Night has raised millions for the charity Action for Children, which works with homeless young people. Founder Ken Deeks hopes to make even more this time around.

To counteract the recession, Byte Night is operating in more places this year, adding a Cambridge sleep-out to existing events in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Reading. “It’s a real refocussing of effort to compensate for what we fear will be a tough time,” said Welch. “We think the Cambridge event could be a very good one.”

So far the number of sleepers committed and the funds raised are similar to this stage last year, but the majority of the action is in the last six weeks, Welch explained: “Everybody is great at the last minute rush.”

The government has promised to support children, but this year’s budget has not extended any extra help, at a time when there are likely to be more families out of work. “We have made sure that the toughest budget for 60 years has no negative impact on measured child poverty,” promised chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander last week.

But most people believe things will be tougher. “Things will be hard particularly in the public sector,” said Welch. “The screw has tightened a notch in the last few weeks.”

Around ten percent of children are neglected, according to the Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of Action for Children. As well as supporting charitable action like Byte Night, the charity has also called for investment from the new government to break cycles of neglect and bring about long term economic benefits.

eWEEK Europe will be sleeping out in Byte Night 2010. You can donate to our page here or go to Byte Night to register and sleep out yourself.