They’re more used to business suits and boardrooms...
But these hardy fundraisers left the world of business behind to join the ranks of the homeless when they slept rough outside Sheffield Cathedral for a worthy cause.
The 25 people who took part raised more than £27,000 for the Cathedral Archer project, a charity which offers homeless and vulnerable adults support and access to services such as nurse and dental clinics.
Surriya Falconer, who works in PR, said: “This is the first time I’ve done a sleep out, but I’ve spent many years walking past doorways at night seeing people in their sleeping bags, covered with cardboard. It doesn’t go away.”
Before she took part in the sleepout she was approached by two homeless people asking for money and spoke to them about their experiences. Surriya said: “It wasn’t the usual sort of story that one would expect, and it made me realise that probably most of us are just a few steps away from things falling apart and finding yourself in this difficult situation.”
Armed with sleeping bags and blankets the group of 25 settled on the cathedral forecourt for the night.
Mark Webber, from steel company Tinsley Bridge, said: “The big difference is that we had company, we weren’t out there on our own. We were talking to people and having a sociable drink before going to bed a bit late – but you wouldn’t want to do it again the next night.”
Craig McKay, from Evenort engineering firm, who brought along 15-year-old daughter Charlie, said: “Part of the fun is that it is weird to be in the middle of the city centre when you wake up.”
Giles Searby, from law firm HLW KeebleHawson, said: “It was a lovely night so it won’t really give us much of an insight but you’ve got to try to walk a mile in these people’s shoes.”
Council deputy leader Leigh Bramall, who also took part, said: “I think it is a fantastic cause.
“The Archer Project actually tries to find a positive way to help people and support them so they can go on and build a better life rather than putting a sticking plaster over the situation.”
The Archer Project is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Trustee Neil MacDonald said: “I used the opportunity this year because it’s our 25th anniversary to call in a few favours to support the charity and raise the profile and to make people in the city more aware of what is going on. The Archer Project has been going a long time and it has changed what it does. It’s not just about serving breakfast, it’s about giving meaning to people’s lives and helping them move on.
“The greatest thing about this is that the people that came to use this project are now volunteers themselves and help other people get back on track.”