A group of Tees Valley businesspeople have braved the cold for a night to raise awareness of homelessness.

Thirty four people took part in the recent CEO Sleepout, which was held in Darlington’s Northern Echo Arena, Mowden Park, and with donations still rolling in, the participants are on track to raise £25,000 in total to combat homelessness.

The event was part of a national initiative that encourages businesspeople to help raise money to combat homelessness. Those taking part in this year’s event included team members from Sirius Group and the CEO of Hogg Global Logistics LTD, Lyndsay Hogg, whose brother Kevin flew over from Dubai to join her in the special event.

Chief executive Bianca Robinson said: “It was inspiring to see so many people come together for such a good cause.

“The atmosphere on the night was wonderful and, despite the cold, knowing we were helping people across the region generated a really warm feeling.”

Managing Director of My Marketing Button, Margaret Bradshaw said: “When I packed my bag tonight, I took a moment to think and I realised that I was lucky enough to be able to pack my luxuries and know that I could stay in touch with my family. This really opened my eyes as those less fortunate don’t have this – they are often alone out there and exposed to different challenges and difficulties.

“One lesson I’ve learned throughout my involvement with this event is the power of kindness – it takes as little as a minute to change someone’s life and make a real difference.

“There’s a surreal atmosphere here, and it’s fantastic to see so many people come together to raise awareness. It’s definitely an experience worth having and it’s a very liberating feeling to be involved.”

Since the charity was founded in 2013, events have been held at venues across the country, including Wembley Stadium, Lord’s Cricket Ground, St James’ Park, Old Trafford cricket ground and Alnwick Garden, raising £2.9 million to date.

Michael Taylor, CEO of Contego Environmental Services, has supported the Darlington sleepout for the past three years and has raised over £3,500 to date. He added: “It’s such a special event and I participate because homelessness can sometimes be hidden, and the CEO Sleepout allows us to not only raise awareness but also give back.”

Money raised from the event will go towards fighting poverty and homelessness, including the Poverty Hurts Appeal, which was launched last month.

The appeal is part of County Durham Community Foundation’s mission to improve the lives of people in the region, and brings businesses and communities together to fight excess winter deaths, reduce poverty-related suffering, and help the one-in-three local children living in poverty.

Foundation chief executive Michelle Cooper said: “We are so grateful for the support this event has offered to our appeal, and we will make all the money raised works as hard as possible to combat the poverty, seen and unseen, in our communities.

“Like homelessness, poverty is a sign that people are slipping through the net, and this can have a devastating effect on families and the elderly. To see local businesspeople, who are well known and respected, draw attention to this important cause, is incredibly important.”

For more information on the CEO Sleepout events, visit www.ceosleepoutuk.com