Byte Night: Industry event to help the homeless

IT executives from around the UK are set to raise money for homeless young people - find out how you can get involved

Some of the leading figures in UK technology will again be turning out this year for Byte Night, which will be held on 17 September. Proceeds go to children's charity NCH.

As backers of this event, ZDNet UK, and our publisher CNET Networks UK have been asking some of the individuals involved - those giving up one night to 'sleep rough' and hopefully empathise with those they're trying to help - what taking part means to them personally.

"Nobody has ever forced me to be homeless or sleep rough," said Mike Short, O2 VP. "The homeless are at a disadvantage from the start. When we are warm and comfortable, with all our high-tech gear under one roof, we should always spare a thought for those less well supported."

Steve Gill, Hewlett-Packard VP and MD for UK and Ireland, said: "It seems inconceivable that so many young people are excluded from the opportunities our society has to offer just because they are unfortunate enough to be made homeless. One night is a small sacrifice to make."

These are positions shared by others.

Michael Avis, Sun Microsystems marketing director, said: "Byte Night changes so many of our pre-conceived ideas about homeless children and young adults. The phrase 'there but for the grace of God' is at the forefront of my mind'."

Others also spoke about comparing their home lives with those of an often forgotten sector of society.

Why take part? "To look outside the comfortable world of IT and have it re-confirmed what a cosseted environment we live in," said Sally Hanson, Cognos UK and South Africa marketing director. "It is time to give something back to those who need it more than I do. I can walk away at the end of the night to my home - they can't."

Ken Deeks, a Byte Night founder and NCH vice president, added: "Some of their stories are harrowing. It's not their fault they're homeless. It's down to a set of circumstances that could have happened to any one of us when we were younger. Quite frankly, it could have been me."

To participate in Byte Night - which this year is being held in Potter's Field, right next to City Hall in London - or to back someone who is, see the NCH Byte Night Web site or email Lucy Cooper at NCH using