Byte night - action for children
Last week I used my Techmodal donate a day to do a charity walk to raise money for the charity Action for Children. This is not the first time I have raised Monday for Action for Children, and as is typical for anyone who regularly supports the same charity, action for children has a personal connection to me.
Action for children is a UK charity that supports children and young people by providing practical and emotional care and support, ensuring their voices are heard, and campaigning to bring lasting improvements to their lives. When I first started raising money for them, their focus was getting under 18s who were sleeping ruff into supportive, vetted, caring homes until their situations could be improved.
My first fundraising activity for AFC was in October 2014. It was an event conceived by technology companies across the UK and aptly named Byte Night. Byte Night raised money by asking the staff members to get sponsorship to abandon their beds in October to sleep out (one hoped) under the stars. We were treated to a meal, some presentations from the charity and some brave children who told us how the charity had helped them. Then a charity auction where we could bid for various items that generous companies donated. Followed by a move outside to sleep underneath Bristol docks’ historic black cranes.
We were furnished with a wee willy winky night cap sporting the Byte Night logo, an umbrella and a plastic survival bag to keep our sleeping bags dry. Byte night provided two security guards to watch over us. We were allowed to bring a ground mat. It was still cold and uncomfortable on concrete. I don’t think I slept. Thankfully it was dry till an hour before we left at 07:00 the following day. Due to the location and the security guards, it was an uneventful night. The night out did give us all a glimpse of what a child who has left home to avoid abuse has to face sleeping ruff. We had it easy. They would probably go without a meal, pleasant company, a sleeping bag (let alone a plastic bag to keep it dry), an umbrella, wee willy winky hat or most reassuring of all, some security guards.
I decided to do Byte night again and raise some more money.
My next round of fundraising was more of a challenge. I approached my sister first. Someone who knows the hardships of sleeping on the streets first-hand, and who now works for a charity helping people with drug and alcohol abuse.
Her reaction was, “That’s not sleeping ruff!!” To be fair, she was right! Unfortunately, her response was echoed by a lot of people I approached. I was clearly making this all sound too comfy, which I assure you it is not.
It became apparent that everyone I knew wanted to see me suffer more extensively or provide some form of public humiliation for their amusement and hard-earned cash. I decided to up the ante! More prolonged and drastic measures were needed!
I offered to have my head shaved at work before going out to sleep on the streets of Bristol. No hair to protect me! I was surprised; everyone was much more inclined to hand cash over for this!
Our office manager offered to do the shaving, then bottled out at the last minute, and a member of the exec took up the clippers instead. He triple-checked that I was ok with doing this before he started cutting. His hands were shaking as he did it.
I sat there thinking, “This is much easier than sleeping out”.
That evening the format was the same, but our location was different. Action for Children had fenced off a section of @Bristol next to the observatory (the big silver ball). During the charity auction, our director (pre-Techmodal), put the first bid down on a Spa, Film and balloon trip tripple combo (worth upwards of £350 we were told); his bid was £150. He seemed very keen. I thought I’d try and help out by upping the anti again. £250, I said, confident that this paltry sum wouldn’t put off our MD. Silence fell.
Furnished with our umbrellas and a survival blanket, we headed out to try and sleep.
What we hadn’t accounted for was that even in October, the outside areas of the pubs and clubs were packed. The continuous drone of drunk people and shouting continued past 02:00. Followed by rain. If I slept, it wasn’t much. At 07:00 the following day, I started to head home to my lovely bed, trying to work out how to explain to my wife that I’d inadvertently bought a balloon ride.
Since the current cost of living crisis, AFC has pivoted to raising money to help families deal with these challenges. Byte Night happened again for the first time this October, but only in London and the north. I’m told it will return to being a one-night national event as it used to be. Despite the cold, un-comfort and sometimes rain, Byte Night is a fantastic charity event with a lot of comradery, good spirit and fun. Hopefully, if you’re still reading this, you will consider joining members from other tech companies and me if and when the Bristol event returns.
At this point, I’d like to thank everyone at Techmodal and the other partner consultancies who sponsored me for my recent charity walk.
Thanks for reading, David