Staff from insurance giant Aviva, will sleep rough on the streets of Eastleigh this Friday to highlight the issue of street children.
The Sleep Out is part of Aviva’s ‘Street to School’ programme which is designed to help vulnerable children get off the streets and back into education.
Aviva employees from all over the town have all volunteered to take part in the 12-hour event outside the insurer’s Chandlers Ford office at Chilworth House on the Hampshire Corporate Park on Friday night.
Staff will be joined by senior management, including chief executive, Aviva UK Life, Toby Strauss, to kick off the first stage of the company’s global ambition to reach 500,000 children worldwide over the next five years.
In the UK, Aviva’s Street to School programme has joined forces with the Railway Children charity to raise awareness and help address the plight of the 100,000 children who run away from home or care every year.
The Eastleigh sleep out is one of ten simultaneous events taking place at Aviva offices across the UK – other offices involved are London, York, Perth, Norwich, Manchester, Sheffield, Leicester, Bristol and Glasgow.
Mark Hodges, chief executive, Aviva UK, said: “The Aviva Street to School programme is designed to raise awareness and funds to help the thousands of children sleeping on UK streets.
“This is a major issue and a major commitment for us and we wanted to start with a bold statement of intent – when we discussed this with our staff they told us they wanted to do something practical to raise awareness of the issue so that’s why we’re staging sleep outs outside all of our ten offices this week. I am delighted to say that hundreds of our employees have already signed up to support this important cause.
“The sleep outs are designed to make a point. We’re not pretending to be homeless but we are hoping to highlight and raise awareness of this issue which is a very real problem on the streets of our towns and cities.”
Terina Keene, Railway Children’s chief executive added: “Our partnership with Aviva will make a huge difference to children living on the streets in the UK. Our recent research ‘Off the Radar’ reveals that UK children run away from home for many reasons, just as they do in developing countries. Many of them are never reported missing and they will sleep on the streets because they are too afraid to go home.
In order for us to help our most vulnerable children, it is critical that we raise awareness of their needs and their existence here in the UK. If we are to succeed in our efforts to help these children, the support from Aviva and their staff will be invaluable.”
Aviva has a long track record of community investment and last year invested £3.7m in the UK with staff, who all get three days paid volunteering leave, delivering over 53,000 volunteering hours. In Eastleigh alone, 200 employees volunteered for nearly 2,300 hours