by Jason Walsh, CEO – CPP Group
Last month I took part in a fundraising event for a Leeds based charity – Simon on the Streets. To raise awareness of homelessness, fundraisers were asked to sleep outdoors for a night in Leeds city centre. The experience, although staged and in no way comparable to the actual struggle of sleeping rough, did give me a real insight and glimpse into the world of homelessness. Exposed to the elements in the Royal Armouries Arena were around 100 people, ranging from teams of fundraisers representing businesses in the city to individuals like me who’d signed up alone to support the charity.
To most of us, homelessness is something we’ll never experience. Most of you reading this message will more than likely have a comfortable, warm house and a roof over your head. It’s something we often take for granted.
However, rough sleepers find themselves in this situation for a wide variety of reasons. For some it’s a family fall out or dysfunction, for others it may be money or debt issues, alcohol related problems or drug abuse. Sometimes it can be related to mental health problems. Often it’s a combination of many of these things which leads people to find themselves on the streets with nowhere to turn.
Simon on the Streets is a charity that was brought to my attention and after looking into the admirable work they do, I signed myself up to the sleep out event in September. I was apprehensive as I didn’t know what to expect, however I took some comfort from the fact that it was only one night and that the event was stewarded and secure. I thought I’d give it a go so that I could raise money for the charity through sponsorships from family, friends and colleagues.
I made it through the night but not without waking up a couple of times in the early hours to experience the unnerving isolation and the cold chill. I wrapped myself up for warmth and tried to get back to sleep, knowing this was nowhere near as traumatic as what rough sleepers go through every night. I could only imagine how bitterly cold it gets in the winter and how terribly lonely they must feel.
As a company, CPP Group Plc moved its support centre functions to the centre of Leeds in November 2017. Being where we are, we see the extent of the homeless situation in Leeds every day and it’s very sobering. Therefore we’ve made a business decision to focus our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme on supporting the homeless people of Leeds and we’ve joined the Leeds Community Foundation and their 100 Club membership in order to begin this initiative. We will be launching this internally over the next few weeks and colleagues will have an opportunity to support this cause through a variety of means, all backed by and with encouragement from the company.
With the Just Giving page I set up for the sleep out event I have managed to raise almost £600 so far, which will all go towards providing a support system for the rough sleepers of Leeds and the surrounding towns.
Next year I’m going to see if any of my colleagues want to join me and we’ll arrange a corporate event to raise more money and more awareness for this very worthy cause.
Photo credit – Samantha Toolsie
Jason has held a number of management and executive roles at CPP between 2002 and 2014. After almost two years at Ernst & Young working within their Financial Services Advisory Practice, he returned to CPP in May 2016 as CEO. Jason grew up in a small village called Appleton Roebuck in Yorkshire and is a proud (and very busy!) father of seven children.