James highlights homelessness by joining the Nottingham CEO sleepout - Article Nottingham : Page Kirk

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James highlights homelessness by joining the Nottingham CEO sleepout

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Page Kirk partner, James Haywood, is joining other business leaders across the Midlands for an annual event to raise awareness of homelessness. The CEO Sleepout is a nationwide project, where participants agree to give up the comfort of their bed for one night and help raise money for homeless charities.

James – who specialises in accountancy for charities and has seen the challenges they've faced during the pandemic at first hand – will be heading to Notts County's Meadow Lane Stadium on 11th November. 

We caught up with James to ask him some questions about CEO Sleepout, which has so far raised over £2.7m for charities focused on homelessness.

Tell us why you're getting involved in the project

Ever since the pandemic, the number of people declared homeless has steadily risen, with no one and nowhere to turn to. With the CEO Sleepout, we are given the opportunity to raise awareness of this and raise some much-needed cash to support the services that are essential to help them. I am delighted to be involved.

You will be supporting Emmanuel House in Nottingham, which is our charity of the year. Tell us about some of the work they do.

Yes, they help vulnerable adults make positive changes in their lives – often by supporting them with their physical and mental wellbeing, finances and drugs and alcohol misuse. They've been doing this for many years – 45 to be precise! And people may know of the Nottingham Night Shelter, which they run. As with all support networks, the services are not cheap to run and, with the current climate, they are desperate for donations to continue, so that they can provide top-quality support for those who need it. It is pleasure to support them.

What do you hope to get out of this?

A better understanding of what it is like to be homeless. Recently, I saw a homeless man who had a sign stating, “This could be you in six months!” and that hit home. Many of us are only one bad decision away from becoming homeless.

Are you looking forward to the night itself? 

I cannot say that I'm excited, as that is the wrong attitude towards what is trying to be achieved, but I am looking forward to it. The main point I am nervous about is where I'll be able to get any sleep in the cold, and mostly rainy, night.

Have you done anything like this before? 

I cannot say I ever have. Probably the closest ever is sleeping at Derby train station in my teens but the less said about that, the better!

Any observations about fighting homelessness?

The problem of homelessness is not only relevant to the UK but is a common problem worldwide. The fact is that homelessness is on the rise, and it is great to see the charities highlighting the plight faced by the homeless every day. And supporting them when they most need it.

In your experience of working with charities, how well are they doing during Covid? 

The coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on charities. Not only have donations dropped off, but by not holding events, they have not been able to promote their services. And without that, people are not aware of their existence.

Any practical advice you can give to charities at this time?

A big problem for charities is the misunderstanding of how to claim gift aid on donations made by individuals. To claim an extra 25% on top of a person's donation, a charity must obtain a declaration from the individual detailing:

  • their full name
  • home address
  • that they have paid the same amount or more in income tax or capital gains tax in that tax year than the potential gift aid
  • that they agree to gift aid being claimed

This does appear to be straightforward, but the knowledge on what is required is not spread around to the relevant teams, ie the outreach team. By having proper training and procedures in place, charities will be able to claim this legitimately and correctly without further cost to the donor. With donations drying up, it is now imperative for charities to make sure they can obtain as much income as possible to survive.

Why should we sponsor you?

By sponsoring me, your money will go a long way to support the services performed by Emmanuel House to help the homeless. Every donation is needed to help limit and, one day, eliminate homelessness. I understand many may not be in the position to sponsor, but if you could support us by telling your friends, family and sharing our efforts on social media this will aid awareness. Donations are also tax deductible!

James will also be helping local charities including the Friary, whose mission is to empower the homeless to rebuild their lives, and Notts County Foundation, where they use the power of sport to transform lives in the community.

Shockingly, over 260,000 people are homeless today in the UK.

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