Sleeping out to help homeless and addiction charities
  • Three WBS staff are raising money for homeless and addiction charities
  • They will be taking part in the CEO Sleepout in Birmingham
  • It will see them sleeping outside for the night on December 6
  • WBS has a longstanding relationship with addiction charity Changes UK

Two academics and a Director from Warwick Business School are sleeping outside in the middle of December to raise money to help combat the impact of addiction and homelessness.

James Hayton, Pro-Dean and Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Dr Nicola Burgess (pictured), Reader of Operations Management, and Karen Barker, Director of Recruitment and Marketing, are taking their sleeping bags to sleep at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s football ground for one freezing night on December 6.

It is part of the CEO Sleepout, a national initiative that encourages businesspeople to help raise money to combat homelessness with local business leaders taking part.

Warwick Business School has a longstanding relationship with Changes UK, a charity for tackling addiction, who have joined forces with Birmingham City FC Community Trust and CEO Sleepout to hold the fundraising event.

Professor Hayton said: “Homelessness and addiction are closely linked. Quite often people who find themselves living on the streets have an addiction problem.

“We hope to raise lots of money to help those sleeping on the streets of our towns and cities. One night sleeping under the stars will never replicate the horror of being homeless, but it is a small gesture that we hope will go some way to help people recover from their addictions and rebuild their lives.”

The money raised in the CEO Sleepout will fund programmes helping some of the most marginalised people across Birmingham get their lives back on track.

Warwick Business School’s MBA students work with Changes UK’s various social enterprises as part of their course work, while the charity also gives talks to the school’s undergraduates on addiction.

Dr Burgess said: “Warwick Business School attracts high-calibre students and world-class academics who want to create a better future, it is something we teach across all our courses. Business has to do much more than make a profit these days, staff and consumers demand it helps its community and society be a better place.

Nicola and Karen in sleeping bags
Fundraisers: Nicola Burges (left) and Karen Barker (right)

“We have worked with Changes UK for some years and our MBA students have done some great projects to help their social enterprises. It is a charity that has done invaluable work and its recovery programmes are really having a great impact on people suffering from addiction.”

Karen Barker added: “This is a great cause and one we are determined to support. Changes UK does life-changing work, helping people find recovery and a life of dignity and purpose. Addiction can happen to anybody in any walk of life, and often results in people losing relationships, their jobs and their homes.

“We really hope that the money raised can help people turn their lives around.”

Since the charity was founded in 2014, CEO Sleepout events have been held at venues across the country, including at Wembley Stadium, Old Trafford Cricket Ground, Fratton Park, The Alnwick Garden and Lord’s Cricket Ground. Its events have raised more than £2.9 million to date.

CEO of CEO Sleepout UK Bianca Robinson said: “The sleepout is intended to unlock a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding homelessness including the impact of addiction and how it’s treated, and to remind all of us in business that we have the power to make a stand.”

Steve Dixon, Founder and Chief Executive of Changes UK, said: “For too long the stigma around homelessness and addiction has stopped people getting the help that they need. Public perception is that addiction is a result of homelessness when the reality is that it is almost always the other way round. If the stigma around addiction did not exist people would not have to reach the crisis point of homelessness.

“Now more than ever we have a responsibility to support those that are suffering and start the conversation for our family members, our co-workers and our friends to be able to talk openly about their addiction and break the cycle that leads to homelessness, because who knows what is in the future for any of us, addiction does not discriminate.

“This event is a great opportunity for us to reframe attitudes towards addiction together, to one of compassion, empathy and understanding.”

Click here to donate to Team WBS fundraising for CEO Sleepout on JustGiving.