Six staff members, including managing partner Peter Taylor, slept overnight in their own self-built cardboard shelters in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral in aid of Trinity Winchester.
The team members included managing partner Peter Taylor, director of strategic partnerships Liz Trevor, partner at the Winchester office Tom Georgiou, marketing director Helen Freeston, marketing executive Sophie Warren and marketing assistant Georgina Carr.
Peter Taylor said: “It was a great experience and a real eye opener. I was mindful that it was very much a sanitised version of what far too many have to endure day after day, night after night.
“I was fortunate to be able to go home, get warm, have a shower, rest in my bed and put on clean clothes but no one would choose to live life as a homeless and vulnerable person. I take my hat off to Trinity for all it does to help those in need.
“There must be many tragic and complex stories behind each person and I do wonder whether they could be more supported and signposted much earlier in their lives and that there’s more as a society we can do to treat the cause of the issue, rather than the consequences.
“It was a privilege to be part of the event and I thank Trinity very much for enriching my life as it has done. I found it a profound and humbling night.”
Tom Georgiou added: “This experience reinforced the unpleasantness of having to sleep rough at any time, let alone with minimal shelter and when the weather is on the turn.
“It is appalling that people in England, one of the richest countries in the world, have to sleep rough and so raising money for charities that offer help to the homeless, and that are looking to make it a thing of the past, is always worthwhile and valuable.”
Helen Freeston said: “Even if we didn’t change anyone’s perceptions of homelessness other than our own, it was worth giving up a normal Friday night to experience this and be more mindful going forward.”
The money raised by Paris Smith and others who took part in this year’s Big Sleep Out will be used by Trinity to enable long-term positive changes to get people out of homelessness and ready to move onto independent living and employment, and continue to offer practical and emotional support through its drop-in day centres.
Recent figures from the government state that 4,677 people were sleeping rough in autumn in England in 2018. This is a 165 percent increase since figures started being recorded in 2010. Additional statistics show that 320,000 people were recorded as homeless in 2018 with a staggering 138,000 children homeless last Christmas which is the highest in over a decade.