This time last week, nine members of the DealTrak family braved the elements to spend the night sleeping on the streets of Leeds to raise money for Action For Children, as part of the charity’s annual Byte Night.
DealTrak’s Joanna Burton, Kate Swinscoe, Kirstyn Thomas, Liz Ingham, Mikaela Tyrrell and Wesley Weaver grabbed their thermals, along with Darren Stringer and Stephen Coleman from Brighter Connections, and Godel Technology's Melissa Blackmore.
Gathering at the Leeds Civic Hall, the team were greeted by Byte Night staff and promptly handed their ‘survival kit’ of foil blanket, t-shirt, beanie hat and warm socks before being ushered further into the building.
Proceedings began in the warmth of the building with speeches by Hilary Benn MP, a Byte Night spokesperson and foster carer before a short film was played, which highlighted stories from some of the young people who have been helped by Action for Children.
Although it made for uncomfortable viewing, they helped dispel any thoughts of backing out at the eleventh hour – literally.
Next up was a charity auction, which saw the team successfully bid on a family pass to see the Leeds Rhinos in action, as well as a wooden wheelbarrow planter. There was also a general knowledge quiz – which they won – before it was time to head outside and bed down for the night.
Kirstyn Thomas shared her experience: “DealTrak is committed to raising money for our local community, and Action for Children is a very deserving cause. The organisation does amazing work to help young people, and while sleeping on the streets on a chilly October night sounds tough, our experience doesn’t even begin to compare to what some young people endure night after night.
“The hardest part for me was the morning – it was incredibly cold and I couldn’t stop myself from shaking. Not only that, but it felt surreal knowing that I could go home and carry on with my day after a night on the streets, when other people don’t have that option. That really makes you think.”
Katie Swinscoe added: “Fundraising can often be a solo ‘sport’ and I liked that Byte Night was a real team effort. It was easier than I expected in the sense that it didn’t rain, which was a blessing, but at the same time, it was probably the most uncomfortable few hours of sleep I’ve ever experienced.
“Ultimately, it was one night for us and we had our safety ensured by the organisers. There are over 100,000 homeless young people each year sleeping in much worse, far more dangerous conditions. It was one night of discomfort for us to raise money to enable those who need it to have access to help.”
Speaking on what kept her going through the night, Joanna Burton concluded: “The thought of helping keep children from being homeless was enough to get me to pretty much sign up for anything! I have two young children and couldn’t imagine them being in this situation and would like to think anyone would want to help raise money to support this charity that does so much.
“The toughest party really was the psychological build-up to the event. I was worried it was going to be cold, but I know it was for one night only, and people do this every night – which made it easier to get past.
“The best part of the event was reaching £5k in donations for our efforts. We’ve now hit £5.3k and the accountant in me is saying ‘come on, let’s try and get it up to £6k!’"
With donations open until the end of 2019 – and with a target of £6,000 – there’s still time to make your pledge. You can find the DealTrak JustGiving page here.