ENTREPRENEURS, business leaders and bosses will be swapping their warm beds for a night sleeping under the stars to help fight against homelessness and poverty.

The CEO Sleepout challenge invites men and women from the business world to join the fundraiser supporting First Stop Darlington, Mowden Community and national charity Walking With the Wounded for their work to house veterans who are experiencing homelessness in the North-East.

The event will attract senior level executives and business owners from the North-East to spend the night outside, experiencing a little of what those without homes go through each night.

This year, the CEO Sleepout will be held at The Northern Echo Arena, the home of Darlington Mowden Park RFC, after successfully being held in various venues across the country.

Since the charity was founded in 2013, CEO Sleepout events have been held at Wembley Stadium, St James’ Park Newcastle, Old Trafford cricket ground, The Alnwick Garden and Lord’s Cricket Ground. Its events have raised more than £2.2 million to date.

Tracy Freeman from First Stop, said: “Many of the people who have used First Stop over the years have spent time on the streets and time living at different addresses with no home of their own.

“The CEO Sleepout raises awareness of the plight of people without homes and all the additional problems that this brings, most which doesn’t occur to the average person.

“Receiving funding from the Darlington CEO Sleepout is so welcome to our little charity, it helps us to support more people on their journey to independence.”

A number of Darlington business leaders have already signed up to take part on October 17, including Mike Matthews; Justin Hutchens, chief executive of HC One, Rebecca Jane Everson, Ms Galaxy UK, and Tori Gill, managing director of tgi Media.

CEO Sleepout’s chief executive, Bianca Robinson, said: “Although it’s only for one night, and doesn’t come close to what homeless people experience night after night, CEO Sleepout is intended to raise awareness and lots of money to fight homelessness locally and nationally, but also to remind all of us in business, about our social responsibility and that we have the power to make a stand against inequality

“We are very grateful for the many business people who have taken part in our fundraising events across the country and want to challenge the Darlington business community to show their generosity and get involved.”

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