In 1998 Ken Deeks, Managing Director of Arrow PR (now Director at The Amber Group), approached Action for Children with the idea of uniting the IT industry to help prevent youth homelessness. He was inspired to contact the charity when he saw their ‘House our Youth 2000’ campaign poster and, being from the IT industry, he assumed it was something to do with preventing the millennium bug. But he soon realised it was for something far more important!
Jonathan Andrews was Company Fundraising Manager at Action for Children and managed the relationship with Ken for three years. Ken had so much enthusiasm and ambition and was full of creative ideas. He came up with the idea of ‘Byte Night’, which involves senior IT executives sleeping out overnight to raise money for Action for Children’s work preventing youth homelessness.
Jonathan played a key role in creating Byte Night for three reasons. Firstly, he was quick to seize the opportunity because he met with Ken the day after his phone call. Secondly, Jonathan encouraged the rest of the charity to get involved. The events and celebrity team were particularly crucial. Thirdly, he brought on board other key people including the person who has made the biggest financial contribution to Byte Night.
In 1998 (the first year of Byte Night), 30 people took part and it raised £35,000. In 2014 over 1,300 people took part across eight UK locations and it raised £1.1million.
In 17 years Byte Night has raised a staggering £7.2million. It is Action for Children’s biggest annual fundraising event and one of the UK’s top 20 mass participation fundraising events.