posted on October 10th, 2022


Thousands of people across the UK gave up the comfort of their own beds recently as part of a national sleepout event to raise money for Action for Children.

Over 100 business leaders and teams from across Northern Ireland joined together on Friday night to support the event. MCS Group, Version 1, Civica, BT, Liberty IT were just a few of the leading tech companies who lay their sleeping bags down at Stormont Estate, to raise vital funds for vulnerable children across the province. The sleepers kicked the night off with a quiz and raffle draw before fuelling up and gathering their sleeping bags to head out to cosy up under the stars on the pitches at Stormont Pavilion.

Formerly known as Byte Night, Boycott Your Bed was celebrating its 25th anniversary, with the event having raised more than £13 million for Action for Children to date, money which has made a significant difference to vulnerable children across the UK. It helps to ensure they have what they need for a safe and happy childhood – like warm clothes, hot meals, and a proper bed, as well as mental health support and protection from neglect and abuse.

Celebrities such as film star Jenny Agutter and actress Jessica Hynes joined people of all ages and from all walks of life at “Boycott Your Bed” events in London, Leeds, Glasgow, Belfast, and at Zip World in the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales, with others choosing to take on the challenge of staying up for the night at home.

Board member, Lyle English, spent the night in his sleeping bag at the Pavilion at Stormont Estate.

“We’re all a bit tired this morning, but it was worth it for such an amazing cause. The cost of living crisis is affecting everyone, but for many, particularly vulnerable children, those affects are far worse. If all we had to do was lose a few hours’ sleep and it helps raise lots of money for this amazing charity, then it’s totally worth it.”

National Director Northern Ireland, Lorna Ballard, helped launch the evening’s activities at Stormont Pavilion.

“We’re so fortunate to have had so many local businesses give up their beds for the night. In our services we’re hearing of more families struggling with the increased cost of living, including the emotional impact of the stress and worry that comes with that. Due to the generous the support of everyone who spent the night out in the freezing cold under the stars we’re able to support these families and children.”

The charity’s senior staff also braved the elements for the night, with Chair of Trustees, Sarika Patel and CEO Melanie Armstrong sleeping out in London and Managing Director of children’s services, Dr Tim O’Neill, bedding down in Leeds.

Action for Children CEO, Melanie Armstrong, also spent the night in the open.

“Last night we wanted as many people as possible to take part in Boycott Your Bed and enjoy the experience of staying up and having a great time with colleagues, family, and friends. It’s a fun event with a very serious message. It helps us to highlight the devastating situation many families up and down the country are currently enduring.”

She added: “It’s tough for everyone at the moment, but the situation is worse for the vulnerable children, young people and their mums and dads in our communities. You can guarantee that Action for Children will do its utmost to ensure children everywhere have the safe and happy childhood they deserve.”