A team from Childbase Partnership slept rough in Newport Pagnell to raise more than £2,500 for a charity supporting terminally ill people.
Armed with sleeping bags and cardboard boxes for the coldest night of the year, the 15 staff camped outside the company’s head office in a bid to fund a holiday caravan for the Maria Hanson Foundation.
Organiser Rachel Jackson explained the focus was on helping terminally ill people who probably won’t see another Christmas, but also on the homeless at this time of the year.
She said: “For most of us sleep proved impossible despite the fact that we were in a safe place and had only eight hours to go before we could get clean and warm. We had a layer of frost on our sleeping bags and were counting down the hours until morning. I do not know how homeless people do it every single night.”
Limiting themselves to just two hot drinks, supplied by supporters, the team used cardboard boxes, donated by DHL the freight forwarders in Milton Keynes, under their sleeping bags.
The event is the latest in a series of fundraising initiatives by the company, leading UK childcare and education providers. They include a Christmas gift-wrapping service and charity ‘corner’ with second-hand items for sale, which raised £700 towards the £16,000 target.
“For many of the people we are trying to help this will be their last Christmas. The Maria Hanson Foundation provides terminally ill people and their families with holidays away and the opportunity to make lasting memories,” added Mrs Jackson.
Oliver Baucutt, practitioner at Meadow View Day Nursery in Newport Pagnell, said: “I appreciate my house, my bed, my family... everything, and that’s after just one night. I have a great deal of respect for those that have to deal with this night after night.”
Suzanne Hawkins, Childbase Partnership HR manager, said:“This experience opened my eyes to how tough it must be living on the streets. By 4am when it was -4 degrees the cold was seeping through my sleeping bag and my nose felt like
it was going to fall off. It was at this point that I felt like giving up and realised how lucky I was to have a choice.”
Holly Willshire, deputy manager at Meadow View Day Nursery, said: “I knew it would be tough but not that tough, and that was with several layers and a cosy sleeping bag. I definitely have a lot of respect for homeless people and now want to do more to support charities trying to help them.”
Emma Willshire, practitioner at Woodlands Day Nursery in Downs Barn, added:“It was a humbling experience in aid of a wonderful cause”.
Tazmin Farrington, who works as a practitioner at Woodlands Day Nursery, said:“It was such an inspiring evening; I would like to volunteer for homeless charities. It was a
challenging night which provided insight in to what some people have to go through daily.”
Vicki Saunders, Childbase Partnership quality and training advisor, said: “It wasn’t until the following night as I was looking forward to my warm and comfy bed that I realised how awful it would be to sleep out every night; that relentless, daily struggle to survive. It has really made me grateful for everything I have in my life.”
Charlotte Nagle, personal assistant to the chief executive, said:“It was an unforgettable experience for such a worthy cause. I don’t think I have ever experienced cold like it.”
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