Leading charity Action for Children Northern Ireland has so far raised £62,000 for vital youth homelessness services following a record-breaking sleep-out event at Stormont.
Almost 130 sleepers from local IT and business organisations including eir Business NI, BT, MCS Group and Sopra Steria joined the ‘Byte Night’ sleep-out event at the famous landmark to help support the charity’s vital work in preventing youth homelessness.
Speaking about the sleep-out, Action for Children Northern Ireland Director, Dawn Shaw said: “We are delighted with the record turn-out for this year’s Byte Night at Stormont. The volunteers are making an invaluable contribution to improving the lives of young people that we work with who are at risk of homelessness.”
Action for Children provides specialist services across Northern Ireland that help young people have a safe and loving home. The charity works with young people, who may have left the care system or who have suffered severe relationship breakdown with family, to live independently by providing emotional support and equipping them with practical skills from budgeting to housekeeping.
18-year-old Michael received vital support from Action for Children’s Sperrin & Lakeland Floating Service in Omagh after he took an overdose. He said: “Life was really hard for me because I came out just before my 16th birthday. It was really tough for me and I found it really hard to deal with. In 2012, things just got from bad to worse. I hit rock bottom. I wasn’t happy with my life. I just wanted to be away from everybody. I thought my family would be happy without me so I took an overdose and ended up in hospital. I was lucky enough to be referred to Action for Children. They helped and supported me through my lowest moments. Action for Children helped me work through my problems and helped me feel comfortable about my own situation. Things are great now. I am still living at home and my relationship with my mum is so much better. We are still talking and I spend a lot more time with her.”
Darren Lemon, eir Business NI General Manager and Byte Night Co-Chair commented:
Along with other members of NI’s growing technology and business community, we are proud to support Action for Children NI and raise awareness of the life-changing services they provide to prevent youth homelessness. eir Business NI team members organise additional fundraising initiatives including coffee mornings, marathon and triathlon teams and our annual quiz night in support of the Byte Night challenge and we are thrilled that this year’s sleep-out has been the biggest yet. We thank all those who took part in this year’s challenge and look forward to capitalising on its success to make next year’s sleep-out even bigger.”
Photo: Caron Alexander, Director of Digital Shared Services, NI Civil Service and co-chair of Byte Night NI; Dawn Shaw, Director of Action for Children NI; and Darren Lemon, General Manager eir Business NI and co-chair of Byte Night NI.