21st Jan, 2022

Sleep-out by director and academics from Coventry's Warwick Business School raises £3,202 to help homeless

Coventry Editorial 10th Dec, 2021

A DIRECTOR and two academics from Warwick Business School raised £3,202 by sleeping outside on Monday to raise funds to help those affected by addiction and homelessness.

James Hayton, Pro-Dean and Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Dr Nicola Burgess, Reader of Operations Management, and Karen Barker, Director of Recruitment and Marketing, took on the challenge many face everyday.

The event was held at Birmingham City Football Club’s St Andrew’s Stadium and was part of the national CEO Sleepout to encourage local business people to raise money for homeless charities.

Known as being the biggest department at Warwick University, the Business School has a long-standing relationship with the Birmingham-based charity, Changes UK.

Changes UK also works with business schools by delivering talks to undergraduates on addiction.

Nicola said: “The evening could be summarised as humbling, thought-provoking and inspiring.

“Homelessness is nearly always the outcome of a tragic set of circumstances, and frequently associated with addiction and poor mental health.”

The group heard testimonies from people who had experienced addiction and homelessness.

“We were told, the worst thing about being homeless is that people treat you as if you are invisible, a lesser person or not even a person.

“We heard harrowing stories of childhood abuse that lead to a life in addiction and how a difficult childhood can manifest in children and young adults in challenging ways that can subsequently lead to them being labelled as ‘a problem’ and ‘not worth the effort’.

“Often, these children were never asked ‘what’s gone wrong for you’, and the real reason behind challenging behaviours in young people gets missed and untreated.”

She added the problems of addiction and homelessness needed to be tackled from both sides – helping adults into recovery from addiction (a service led by Changes UK) and supporting children’s emotional, physical and behavioural development (through schemes such as the Birmingham City FC Community Trust).

That gives them the means to make their own choices for their futures rather than because they are a victim of circumstance.

It also hopefully prevents them ‘falling through the cracks’ into a cycle of addiction, homelessness and poor mental health.

Karen said the sleepout was deeply thought-provoking and showed how quickly lives could spiral out of control.

“The individuals’ journeys from dependence to independence showed great courage and shone a very bright light on how important and life-changing the work that Changes UK is doing to support people on this journey.”

She added the work being done by the Birmingham City Football Club Community Trust provided young people with a much-needed platform to build their courage, network and self-belief to follow their own path with confidence.

“It was inspiring and very humbling and I was very taken by the positive energy, compassion and care shown by everyone I met.

“Addiction is a very real problem that can and does affect so many in society from all walks of life.

“The work of these brilliant charities is influencing and facilitating very real and important societal change.”

One moment which stood out for Karen was hearing a very emotional poem written and read by Ian McMillan.

“In terms of the sleep-out experience, I was lucky as I had multiple layers and a very warm sleeping bag – yet I was still very cold.

“I was conscious of all the sounds around me. If I had been on my own I don’t mind admitting I would have felt very scared and vulnerable.

“I can’t even start to imagine what it must be like for anyone but especially a female if this was your reality night after night.”

“We would like to send a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us with very generous donations and kind messages of support.”

The overall national CEO Sleepout raised £40,550.

 

 

 

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