Slaven’s new goal – fighting Teesside homelessness

31 Monday, 2014

Boro legend Bernie Slaven has had his highs and lows in life but none will have prepared him for his next challenge – when he sleeps rough for the night to raise the plight of homeless people on Teesside. The former striker is joining dozens of fellow fundraisers to spend the night in the cold in the fight against poverty and homelessness across local towns – and he is calling on more to join him. The third Big Tees Sleepout is being held in the grounds of Middlesbrough College overlooking Boro’s Riverside Stadium on the night of Friday, April 25. Funds raised will go towards food banks, soup kitchens, hostels for the homeless and others in desperate need across Teesside.

Slaven said: “I’ll be brutally honest, I’m not looking forward to it. But there are people not just in England but here on Teesside who have to do this every night so I’m sure I can put up with the cold for one night to raise awareness of the problem. It’s 2014, for goodness sake. It’s a disgrace that anyone is homeless.” Among those joining Slaven will be Fr Paul Farrer and members of the Middlesbrough Youth Mission team. Fr Paul and four of his team took part in a previous sleepout last October, raising £5,000. Fr Paul said: “When we decided to do another sleepout, we didn’t think we could ask all the same people we know to sponsor us again – so we’ve asked them to join us instead and get their own sponsors!

“There’s at least 15 of us taking part this time, including teachers, parents and sixth-formers. It’s easy to pretend this sort of stuff isn’t happening on Teesside but homelessness is a reality and it’s important we do all we can to help those in need.” Lynne Alderson, Middlesbrough College’s director of programmes for service industries and retail skills, is taking part with members of the college management team, teachers and students. “We have a one-team ethos at the college so there will be a cross-section of us taking part,” she said. “It’s a great cause and the college is proud to be hosting the sleepout once again.”

Two sponsored sleepouts held last year raised a combined £27,000 – but organisers Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation are hoping to hit new heights this time. Andy Preston, chairman of a charity that has raised more than £500,000 for local causes over the past three years, said: “We’re delighted to have Bernie joining us this time and hopefully a few Boro fans will take up the mantle too. “We need the help of the Teesside people if we want to continue to provide vital funds to food banks, soup kitchens and the many homelessness hostels that help to keep our homeless off the street.” Joanna Wake, co-founder of the Big Tees Sleepout, added: “Sleeping rough is uncomfortable and, if we’re unlucky with the weather, it can be cold too. But giving up just one night, makes an unbelievable difference.” The third Big Tees Sleepout takes place at Middlesbrough College on Friday April 25 and Saturday April 26 from 7pm to 7am.

Those taking part are advised to bring a sleeping bag and layers of warm clothing, while there will also be access to toilets and hot drinks throughout the night.

o sign up, for more information or to sponsor those taking part in the Big Tees Sleepout, visit www.bigteessidesleepout.co.uk

For more details about the Foundation visit www.teessidecharity.org.uk

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