Today is International Volunteer Day and to celebrate we are featuring a “Sustainability Spotlight” series, highlighting employees across Symantec who incorporate aspects of corporate responsibility (CR) and sustainability into their day jobs. This series will focus on volunteering and highlight some of the extraordinary efforts employees are making in their communities that last year helped Symantec increase volunteer hours by 41 percent. Today we start with a look back at our first Sustainability Spotlight employee Claire Scull, with a post on her experience and involvement in this year’s Byte Night event in the UK.
Some people might think it’s crazy that I volunteer to sleep outside for a night once a year regardless of the ever changeable UK weather. I have slept out with my fellow Symantec colleagues in Reading, however we also have teams sleeping out in London by Tower Bridge, and Scotland. But what most people don’t realize is that last year up to 100,000 youth across the UK were without a home or a place to sleep. Of these, one in three attempt to take their life.
For me it’s all about perspective – I am fortunate to be able to choose to do this for one night to raise awareness of the issue, whilst unfortunately these young adults and children don’t have a choice and are doing it every day and night.
We sleep out as a Symantec team as part of Action for Children’s Byte Night event - the IT industry’s annual sleep out to raise funds and awareness for youth homelessness, and for the great work that Action for Children does to transform the lives of vulnerable and neglected children throughout the UK.
I first became involved with Byte Night three years ago, when just a few days before the event, a colleague asked me to join as they were a team member short. Since then I have become more actively engaged, having sat on the Thames Valley Board helping to get the event up and running, supporting fundraising efforts across the Thames Valley, and bringing support, encouragement and motivation inside Symantec to help with our Symantec team fundraising.
There are so many reasons myself and others continue to take part in Byte Night every year. This video features IT professionals (and me!) speaking about why we are so passionate about this event.
Record breaking year
Each year the event grows and 2013 was a record breaking year! Byte Night had a total of 1,448 sleepers across the UK, and raised more than £1 million.
This was the fifth year that Symantec took part in Byte Night with a total of 480 volunteer hours (up from 408 last year). We had an extremely dedicated team of 13 sleepers who helped us increase our impact around the event and on the night, and helped Byte Night reach record breaking numbers! A huge thank you to:
- Jennifer Sawyer
- Sian John
- Penny Rose
- Simon Moor
- Paul Barrick
- Lisa Sellers
- Elliott Fonte
- Heena Lad
- Pamela Kernott
- Lisa Hall
- Adam Patherick
- Lynn Gardner
Byte Night takes place no matter what the weather conditions. That is the reality for young people without a home and it is this very fact that brings even more impact and awareness to the event. Thankfully this year it was a lot warmer and drier. Last year it was very wet and cold, and many were sleeping in puddles as the night wore on. This year we all managed to get quite a bit of sleep, and were fortunately and humbly warm and dry. We also had a new venue in Reading for the Thames Valley event as the overall numbers of sleepers has grown.
In one night you can make a huge difference
For anyone who is interested in getting involved, I would say just do it, just get involved. It is a fantastic event, and there are so many ways to be involved - you can be a sleeper, a board member for London, Reading, Manchester or in Scotland, you can support those that sleep out with their fundraising, you can tweet and Facebook to raise awareness, or you can just become more involved with Action for Children more generally and be an on-the-night helper, a project supporter or a mentor.
Byte Night is now a special time of year for me. I always walk away with a new-found appreciation for what I have, and so thankful for the great work Action for Children is doing. Being involved has opened my eyes to the dangers, conditions and hard lives that homeless people have, especially youth who don’t always realize this doesn’t have to be their only path.
I don’t think having a home, a warm place to sleep and supportive family should be a luxury, it should be something all of us have. Thanks to Action for Children and their wonderful work, there is help out there.
Claire Scull is Corporate Communications Project Manager for Symantec.