It's Friday, almost the weekend. You're probably planning a quick drink after work, maybe dinner or the cinema, or perhaps you just fancy a night in. But as you head home, a large contingent of people will be wishing they were in your shoes.
Tonight, more than 850 people from the IT and business worlds will be spending the night sleeping outside in a bid to raise money to prevent youth homelessness. In doing so, they'll be taking part in Byte Night, the IT industry's annual sleep out event in aid of Action for Children which is taking place at various locations in London, Cambridge, Reading and Edinburgh to support the fight against youth homelessness and social deprivation in the UK.
It's a cause I, along with many of my friends, colleagues and industry peers, have been supporting for the past 14 years. Founded in 1998, the event has raised more than £3 million to date, and we're expecting tonight's sleep out to raise a significant sum, exceeding last year's total of £567,000. More than 850 sleepers are expected to take part with senior representatives from some of the UK's biggest companies - including BT, Dell, Ernst & Young and RBS - all signed up to sleep out. They'll be joined at the event by several celebrities including Larry Lamb, Jenny Agutter, Jess Hynes and Kay Burley.
Raising much needed funds for Action for Children's projects around the country, Byte Night is now a staple event on the IT calendar. Since its inception 14 years ago, it has grown year on year, surviving the turbulent times of the dot.com crash, and more recently, the economic recession. This growth is testament to the depth of feeling among the event's supporters for the causes it benefits, and the people it helps.
Indeed, with technology shaping the lives of people everywhere, the link between the IT sector and the charity's valuable work is growing increasingly relevant. Having worked in and around the technology sector for many years, I'm acutely aware that IT is everywhere around us - in the way we work, play, travel and socialise. But many vulnerable young people have no access to the everyday technologies we take for granted. The impact of this is enormous, especially on those that are living in disadvantaged situations, with both personal development and career prospects suffering considerably. Without basic IT skills, young people are unable to apply for jobs, benefits or housing, placing both them and their families at risk.
It's devastating to think that this situation exists but Byte Night provides a platform for change. The event is critical to the work Action for Children does and raises money for a host of services - from providing emergency shelter and accommodation for those at risk of homelessness, to providing training and education so that the most vulnerable can learn key skills.
And it's this that keeps us going at 3am when it's freezing cold and pouring with rain.
Tonight will be a challenge, but it will also make a significant difference to the lives of many disadvantaged young people in the UK. It's an event I'm looking forward to, and one I'm immensely proud to be part of - although I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for a dry night! If you'd like to support the sleepers, you can make a donation by texting BYTE to 70800 to donate £5*, or you can visit www.bytenight.org.uk. Follow us! @bytenight.
*You will be charged £5 plus one message at your standard network rate. Action for Children will receive between £4.70 and £4.99, depending on your network provider. By using this service, you agree that we may contact you in the future. If you'd rather we didn't, text 'AFCSTOP' to 70800. Your money will go towards Action for Children's work to help prevent youth homelessness.