Byte Night hailed 'outstanding' success

London's young homeless will benefit from last week's fundraising efforts by the IT community

Friday night saw the IT community come out in support of Byte Night -- an annual event which raises money and awareness for charities battling against the problem of youth homeless in the UK.

Each year an ever-larger band of volunteers from some of the industry's largest companies brave a night sleeping out on the streets of London to raise money for NCH.

Duncan Mitchell, UK managing director of Cisco, said: "This year's Byte Night was an outstanding event. Last year was a tough act to follow, but with so many more people attending, such powerful speakers and such an amazing atmosphere, I can honestly say it was one of the best Friday nights I can remember. All this, and we raised awareness and funds for a great cause."

Martin Mackay, vice president of multi-country regions EMEA from PeopleSoft, echoed these sentiments. He said: "Participating in Byte night for the second year was a real pleasure. It is really inspiring to see the work that the NCH is doing, and to hear first-hand experiences of the changes that they are making to so many young people's lives. This is a great cause and it was fantastic to see the number of participants almost double from last year."

James Bennett, founder of European Technology Forum, who helped to stage the annual event, agreed this year's Byte Night had been an unprecedented success.

Bennett said: "This was the by far the largest Byte Night since its inception six years ago. Early results indicate that we have raised in the region of £250,000, but we expect the final total, when match-funded by the government, to be in excess of £1,000,000 to help the young homeless.

"For me, the plight of young homeless is really brought home when you realise just how uncomfortable sleeping out is -- even when it's really warm and dry. I was exhausted for the whole weekend. I cannot imagine what it is like when you are alone, wet and cold in the winter night after night."

Mike Barrett, the European Technology Director of silicon.com's parent company CNET UK, also joined in the fundraising -- with the much appreciated backing of silicon.com readers who pledged generously on the back of an appeal last week.

But Barrett agreed that the worthwhile event barely scratched the surface of the problems facing the young homeless -- though he believes it is an important gesture which should help raise the profile of the crisis on the UK streets.

Barrett said: "The extent of the support was superb and it was great to see the industry doing something practical to support young people who often through no fault of their own find themselves homeless. Although the weather meant that the level of hardship was not too high, it was a symbolic sacrifice of a warm comfortable nights' sleep. This went way beyond simply pledging money to charity, and actually means that we have a small idea of what it might be like.

"The whole evening was superbly organised and there was a real spirit of camaraderie throughout the evening."

"I'll definitely be back next year," he added.

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