I wasn’t in a position to keep up with the news last night; I was too busy looking up at a canopy of stars, talking to friends and colleagues, experiencing what it feels like to be homeless for one night. Great experience, especially when you can choose where and when, especially when it’s only once a year.
As luck would have it, yesterday turned out to be one of the coldest nights of the year, around 40 degrees Fahrenheit; this, on the banks of the Thames, with a gentle wind reducing the effective temperature even further. As I looked around, I watched people try and fashion makeshift windbreaks out of umbrellas and polythene sheets; struggling to cocoon themselves in sleeping bags with hands that had become stumps and eyes that wouldn’t stop watering; walking around trying to convince themselves that it would make them feel warmer. [An aside: the stump-like hands and frozen fingers meant that there weren’t many BlackBerries or iPhones in evidence.]
Sounds hard. Not really.
It was all too easy. After all, we had spent all day in warm offices with warm colleagues and warm bank balances. We were in reverse Cinderella time, the clock would strike and everything would go back to normal. We’d all had a decent meal for dinner, and we were all in anticipation of a decent breakfast.
The morning came and I could go home. Go home to a warm family and a warm shower and a warm bed. [I have never enjoyed a shower as much as I did this morning, allowing stinging needles of super-hot water to drive away every memory of the previous night’s cold.]
Byte Night is not about one night, it’s about the lives of children and youth that need help. Children and youth who don’t have the warm choices we have. Children and youth forced to leave home without warning, forced to sleep in doorways and abandoned cars and nooks and crannies.
Byte Night turned 10 yesterday, a decade during which around £2m has been raised. Amazing stuff, great testimony to the vision and hard work done of people like Ken Deeks and James Bennet, and a great reward for the incredible work done by the people in Action for Children. We raised a lot of money over the last few days. But we can raise more, so I’m going to keep the site open for a few more days. Link here. If you’re feeling warm when you read this, think about the people who aren’t. Enough said.