I've always been a firm believer in the value of providing children with the opportunity to better themselves. It is an issue that is very close to my heart, having experienced a troubled childhood myself.
I was born in the UK and lived the very early part of my life in the East End of London. At the age of seven, my mother and I moved to Africa to escape my abusive father. This began a very unsettled period that was to last for the majority of my childhood. We arrived in Rhodesia in the late seventies, following UDI, and there was a great deal of animosity towards British people at that time. Being the only English child at the local school, I was badly bullied and regularly beaten up. Outside school, attacks on the homes of white landowners were becoming increasingly common and at the age of 11 my mother and I were forced to flee once more when our home was attacked by a mob, brandishing petrol bombs and guns.
We escaped to South Africa at the height of the apartheid regime. Violence was rife, and I often experienced at first-hand the brutality of a nation at war with itself. As a young child, this had a profound effect on me and opened my eyes to inequality and suffering on an epic scale. When I was 12, we departed Africa to return to London, as penniless as when we had arrived, with literally just the shirts on our backs. Given the constraints of our financial situation we spent the first two years living in a squat in Stockwell, getting by as best we could.
It was a very unsettling experience for a boy so young. However, it formed in me a desire to ensure that my own children would not have to experience the same thing. I've always believed that if you want the best for your own children, you should strive to create a better world for them beyond the confines of your own home.
That is why Telecity supports Byte Night, the technology industry's charity sleep out event to raise money for Action for Children's work to prevent youth homelessness. This year we are one of the principal sponsors as well as entering a team to join sleepers from across the technology industry. We are trying to address wider social issues by providing opportunities to children across the UK.
As I learned from my own experiences, children living in extreme environments are often powerless to change the world around them, or better their situation. Charities like Action for Children provide children with the opportunity to break the circle of violence, abuse and neglect and help them to realise the choices that are open to them in the hope that they can build a better life for themselves.
So please do join us on Friday 5 October and help us to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable young people across the UK.