Members of Leeds’ largest business networking group proved their dedication by attending their weekly meeting directly from a night spent sleeping rough in the city.
The sponsored sleep-out was organised by Simon On The Streets – an independent charity which offers emotional and practical support to those people who are hard to engage, have a range of complex needs and are at risk of rough sleeping.
The charity’s general manager Helen Beachell joined the BNI Network Central business networking group three months ago and was delighted when nine other members offered to join her for a night in sleeping bags and cardboard to raise money for the cause.
In a further show of commitment, the networkers all went directly from the sleep-out to their weekly 6.30am meeting at Weetwood Hall.
Network Central’s membership secretary, Keeley Edge of Key Appointments, was one of those who took part in the sleep-out.
“Some people think we’re crazy to meet that early every Friday, but there is a great atmosphere at the meetings and – as this event demonstrates – all the members are really supportive of each other.
“The motto of BNI is ‘givers gain’, and that is something that all our group members take very seriously.”
“It was a new experience for all of us to go to a networking meeting without sleep or showers, but we got a great reception from the other members and visitors.
“The sleep-out was a fantastic event to take part in and definitely makes you realise how hard it must be to sleep rough every night.
“Although it was a fairly mild night I could not get over the cold. I was wearing three layers and had a sleeping bag and ear muffs and could not get warm.”
The Network Central members raised more than £2,500 towards the total of £14,500 that was generated by the 120 members of the Leeds business community who took part in the event.
The annual sleep out is now in its fourth year and has grown year on year.
Helen Beachell said:
“The support that the business community has shown us for this event has been second to none and the money raised is vital to the charity.
“Particular thanks to the team from BNI Network Central who have supported the event not only through fundraising, but also through offers of skill-based support.
“It really is fantastic to see local businesses of all sizes showing their support to local charity.”
This year’s event was sponsored by Box Pizza and Simon On The Streets is seeking sponsors for future events. Contact Helen Beachell on 01484 483141.
For more information see www.simononthestreets.co.uk