Two of our staff sleep out for homelessness

Business Comms

Over recent months Belfast Live, in partnership with the Welcome Organisation, has been Opening Eyes on Homelessness to raise awareness and funds for the homeless in Belfast. The campaign’s objective is to raise £25,000 to put a mobile health unit on the streets of Belfast to treat and examine vulnerable people who are sleeping rough and need medical assistance. In the latest fundraising effort, staff from our Belfast office did a sleepout at Belfast City Airport to get the campaign to 98% of its target.

Over the course of this year, Belfast Live has been reporting on the homeless endemic in the city and has been encouraging readers to get involved in the fundraising effort to help make a positive difference to the fantastic work carried out by the charity.

Reach NI staff have played their part in raising money for the cause as well by taking part in the Belfast City Marathon, organising internal staff fundraisers and most recently, The Welcome Organisation’s Sleepout at Belfast City Airport.

Our advertising partners have also got involved by rolling out fundraising activities in their businesses. EZ Living, Better Gyms and Bogart Menswear, for example, put Opening Eyes on Homelessness collection bins in their premises across the city, encouraging customers and members of the public to drop items like sleeping bags and toiletries into the store.

In addition, each week the sponsors of Belfast Live Sport’s podcast BetMcLean do a charity bet on the show and all profit goes towards the homelessness fundraising campaign.

Our Business Comms Manager LesleyAnn, who was one of the staffers who took part in the sleepout, tells us about her experience...

"I definitely got my eyes opened on Friday night. I just can't fathom how people face that situation every single night on our streets.  What's worse - what I experienced is nothing in the grand scheme of things.  

Although the sleepout will in no way replicate the true experience of what it's like to sleep rough every night, it can, however, make even more people aware of the dire situation and raise much-needed funds to help.

It was a night of real perspective. We were well wrapped up in ski gear, hats and scarves and layers upon layers of clothing that would keep us warm, and we had come from our warm homes after having a proper good meal that would set us up for the night.  

You couldn't help but feel like a fraud doing it because deep down you know that's not the real situation for the homeless, they don't have that luxury. 

The sleepout began at 9pm just as temperatures were dropping to 3⁰C.After about an hour, the reality of what we were facing began to set in as the temperatures took another dip to 2⁰C. It was so cold, but it could have been worse. Thankfully, Liberty IT had kindly donated some hot drinks, pot noodles and snacks to keep us going throughout the night which we were very glad of."

"At 11pm the rain started even though the forecast hadn't given any rain so panic did set in. Thankfully it only lasted a few minutes and it remained dry for the rest of the night. After midnight we got our heads down. Some of us slept for a few hours, others didn't at all.

The worst thing definitely was the tiredness and how uncomfortable the setup was. I thought we'd find the cold/frost the worst.

Thank you to everyone who donated. It has made the whole experience even more worthwhile seeing our target shoot up over the weekend."

Our Marketing Manager Linda-Jane, the hero who has spearheaded the whole campaign with The Welcome Organisation cannot thank everyone who has supported the cause enough.

“From our readers and fans to my colleagues and brand partners, what I have noticed throughout this campaign is that people in Northern Ireland are just so generous.  We set out at the start of 2019 to raise £25k for the charity by the end of the year and we are now sitting at 98% of our total target with over £24,500 raised.

“What this campaign has proven is that Belfast Live is a campaigning voice. We used our platform to reach out to our readers to unite as a city, to help our city – and that’s exactly what they have done.  Here’s hoping we’ll reach the £25k very soon.”


To make a donation online, head to Belfast Live’s JustGiving page.

To donate by text you can text 'OPENINGEYES 10' to 70085 to donate £10 or 'OPENINGEYES 20' to donate £20. This costs the amount you have donated plus a standard rate message.  

Alternatively, you can opt to give any whole amount up to £20.