Reflecting on Byte Night 2007

Byte Night
NCH

A few weeks ago I posted a blog entry about my involvement in Byte Night 2007 – the UK IT industry’s annual sleep out in support of young people who are coping with life after care or facing homelessness. I’ve just got home from my night sleeping rough in London and as I’ve been really amazed by the generosity of some people, including those of you who don’t know me personally but who added a donation as a way of supporting this site, I thought I’d post an update.

So was it all worth it? Yes.

On a financial level, I’ve raised £1062.26 for NCH, the children’s charity – thank you to everyone who contributed to this fantastic total. Combined with the rest of Team Fujitsu that’s £7266.19 and I understand the total raised by all participants was around the £280,000 mark [update: £304,389 as at 12 October 2007].

Mark Wilson sleeping rough at Byte Night 2007On a personal level, I found it all rather humbling. I want to stress that I can never truly understand what it’s like to be homeless. I’m back home now with my family and tonight I will sleep in my own bed but it’s good to remember those who are less fortunate and to do something to help. Some people inferred that Byte Night is just a “jolly”, a chance to network, and I will admit that it was great fun to attend a charity reception last night hosted by Jenny Agutter (who joined in the sleepover, as she has on several previous occasions); to have a weather forecast from Siân Lloyd (luckily, it was dry, with some cloud cover, and hence well above freezing); to watch Trinny Woodall judge the Byte Night nightcaps that had been customised by celebrities including Dame Ellen MacArthur and Sandi Toksvig. As I walked along the South Bank and through Westminster in the early hours this morning, I saw those who were genuinely homeless and realised how vulnerable I felt. I cannot imagine what it is like to be in their situation, every day and night, let alone as a child. Even though I was taking part in an organised sleepover with over 250 like-minded people the point is not really about being truly “on the streets” – it’s about raising awareness of this important issue and funds for NCH to help vulnerable children and young people.

So what’s this got to do with a technology blog? Not a lot, except that the Byte Night participants all work in the UK IT sector and several IT companies (sadly not the one that I work for) added their support the event, whether that was by providing a fleece to keep me warm (thank you Dell), groundsheets/survival bags and umbrellas (thank you Harvey Nash), or hosting the reception (thank you Ernst and Young).

That’s (almost) all I have to say on this – technology-focussed blogging will resume shortly – but before I sign off, it’s not too late to help me reach the elusive £2000 personal target – my fundraising site will remain in place at http://www.justgiving.com/markwilson-bytenight07/ until 6 December 2007 – and, if you want to know a little more of what it’s all about, watch the video below.

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