The saying is, that you can’t understand someone unless you walk a mile in their shoes.

Well, how about getting a better awareness of a homeless person by spending a night in a sleeping bag!

That’s what some of the UK’s leading “movers and shakers” have done. All in the name of raising cash, but also to change perceptions about this country’s quarter of a million “rough sleepers”.

CEO Sleepout is a national charity, that has been sending executives out into the cold since 2014. It’s the brainchild of successful businessman Andy Preston.

So far, an incredible 1,900 top managers, board members and community leaders have embraced the chance to experience firsthand what it’s like to spend a night on the street. In doing so, they have already raised almost £2 million for charities that tackle homelessness and poverty.

Every penny of that cash has been channelled into local projects within the communities around each SEO Sleepout event. And there is much more to come.

Everyone’s problem

There are new CEO Sleepout events planned across the UK in the coming weeks. Which means even more executives can show their support.

Support is an important word for this charity. This is not chequebook philanthropy. The business leaders who get involved are united in their determination to create more publicity and discussion about the topic of homelessness.

They want to show active support for the hundreds of thousands of people who end up sleeping rough, often due to financial problems or mental health issues.

For many of the CEOs and other executives, it’s about changing perceptions. Showing that real people, not just statistics, are involved. Homeless people have “back stories”, circumstances that lead them to camping out in doorways and other open air spots, in all weathers.

The aim is also to show that we’re all part of the solution, in tackling the growing problem of British people sleeping rough on the streets, “sofa surfing” with nowhere to go, or living in woefully inadequate housing.

With Britain in the firm grip of a housing crisis, it’s a problem that needs robust solutions and a joint effort.

Not everyone goes home

Many of the people who’ve taken part in the CEO Sleepout events over the years report that it’s a deeply moving experience. Being uncomfortable and cold for one night is unpleasant, but pales in significance next to the reality of having no alternative. Event volunteers go home afterwards, the countless people they are helping don’t have that luxury!

Which is why more events, and many more volunteer executives, are needed!

Check out the website for details of CEO Sleepouts dates, follow the charity on social media and please spread the word.