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CEO Sleepout London: Changing Lives in the Bitter Cold

Henrik Muehle, General Manager of Flemings Hotel in London Mayfair, at CEO Sleepout

London’s most compassionate business leaders gave up their beds for one night on November 22 to sleep out at Lord’s Cricket Ground, raising funds for people facing homelessness this winter.

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“Tonight is my night,” said Henrik Muehle, General Manager of Flemings Hotel in London Mayfair. “I have packed my sleeping bag and will put on lots of warm clothing to sleep out in the bitterly cold night at the Lord’s Cricket Grounds on St. Johns Wood Road, London, to show solidarity with people in need.”

Bianca Robinson from Lords Cricket Ground said: “Lockdown has been hard for all of us. But imagine if you had no home, no bed, no food, and nowhere you felt safe.

“This crisis has driven more people to the streets as they’ve lost their jobs, can’t pay their rent, and have struggled to feed their families. Some have been able to make use of empty hotel rooms, but without continued support, they’ll be back on the streets. They need YOUR help. You’ll bed down with business owners, execs, and senior professionals, and leaders of all kinds, all braving the elements sleeping outdoors to raise awareness and funds, each person pledging to raise or donate a minimum of £2,000 to fight homelessness and poverty in London. Your night sleeping alongside your peers at Lord’s could change a life.”

The CEO Sleep Out with around 100 participants was took place after having been postponed from 2020. In 2019, sleepers braved the cold and raised an incredible £85,000 for local charities.

tonHenrik Muehle and Hillary Clinton

Henrik Muehle is one of the biggest fundraisers for the CEO Sleep fundraising. During the dark weeks last year when the pandemic hit London, and hotels and restaurants, coffee shops, and bars had to close for long lockdowns, he was cooking curries (300 meals) in his orphaned hotel kitchen for the homeless. Normally, he has a Michelin Star chef at his ORMER Mayfair Restaurant, but during the lockdown, there was no staff, no chef, and no guests at the hotel. He had to move into the hotel with just a few people to keep everything going and safe.

It was a terrible time which has left many hotel and restaurant staff all over London without work and income. Many of them had not only lost their jobs but also their homes as they could not pay the rent any longer and had to sleep rough. EU citizens could not return to their home countries as there were hardly any flights or train service back to the continent.

When taking long walks through the deserted streets of London, Henrik Muehle discovered the food banks at night and decided immediately to help. Many of his former employees were delighted to support him. The great solidarity by giving out meals and hot drinks at a food bank at nearby Trafalgar Square was just amazing. Henrik also organized food bags from M&S for those in need.

He deserves a medal, said Frances Smith, London. I fully agree and let’s hope nobody is catching a cold after sleeping out in cold air at Lord’s Cricket Grounds.       

Why is it so important?

The nightmare of homelessness is faced by 250,000 people who every day in the UK. Recent studies show the shocking truth around homelessness in England.

Founded in 2015 by Chairman Andy Preston, CEO Sleepout events have been held across the UK, including 8 Sleepout events to come this year. The Sleepout was held at Lord’s Cricket Ground in northwest London, and business leaders slept out on one of the coldest nights this year in a bid to raise money and awareness of the rising poverty crisis in the UK.

“The atmosphere on the night was wonderful, and despite the cold, knowing we were helping people across the region generated a really warm feeling,” a participant said.

What do we know about rough sleeping in London?

11,018 people were recorded as having slept rough in the capital in 2020/21. This data, from the Greater London Authority’s, tracks rough sleepers in London seen by outreach workers. This is a 3% increase compared to the total of 10,726 people seen the year before and almost twice that of 10 years ago. Within the 11,018 overall total, 7,531 were new rough sleepers who had never been seen bedded down in London prior to this year.

The rough sleeping count represents the tip of the iceberg. Those staying in shelters and hostels are not included. Nor are the people who sleep on night buses, stay out of sight, or rove from one couch to another, reports the Glassdoor.

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About the author

Elisabeth Lang - special to eTN

Elisabeth has been working in the international travel business and hospitality industry for decades and contributing to eTN for nearly 20 years. She has a worldwide network and is an international travel journalist.

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