Posted: 04 Dec. 2019 8 min. read

Why I'll be sleeping out in Trafalgar Square: Richard Houston, CEO, Deloitte UK and North South Europe

On Saturday 7 December, thousands of people across the globe will join The World's Big Sleep Out to create the world’s largest display of solidarity with, and in support of, those experiencing homelessness and displacement. Richard Houston, CEO, Deloitte UK and North South Europe, shares what inspired him to join the sleep out.

Sometimes when you meet someone they inspire you to act.

And so it was with Josh Littlejohn, founder of the incredible global campaign to end homelessness: The World’s Big Sleep Out.

I first met Josh in September and heard his story of setting up a cafe called Social Bite in Edinburgh with his friend Alice Thompson. They donated all of their profits to social causes and offered jobs and free food to people affected by homelessness. From modest beginnings, Social Bite now has a chain of social enterprise shops in Scotland and a Social Bite Village that provides shelter and support for homeless people. Josh and Alice advise the Scottish Government on housing policies and their first ‘sleep out’ with 300 people in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens is now a global movement.

I was blown away by Josh’s absolute determination and passion that saw him turn one small cafe into a worldwide campaign to end homelessness. He inspired me to get involved.

So I signed up then and there to take part in the World’s Big Sleep Out. This weekend my wife and I will be spending the night in Trafalgar Square joining more than 60 Deloitte colleagues and another 50,000 people sleeping out in cities across the world. The aim is to raise £40 million for the estimated 100m homeless and displaced people worldwide. The funds will help people who have lost their homes due to war, natural disasters and poverty, as well as being directed to local homelessness charities. Depaul, Thames Reach, The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, The Big Issue Foundation and Homeless Link will receive 50% of funds raised from the London sleep out.

While I will admit I’m slightly nervous about the sleep out, I know it’s just one night. I’ll have the luxury of a sleeping bag, a full stomach, the comfort and safety of having hundreds of other people around me, and the knowledge that I’ll go home in the morning. For homeless people on the streets there is a daily cycle of cold, hunger, fear, loneliness and the ever present risk of violence.

Spending a night on the concrete is one small action. But the small actions of 50,000 people and the thousands more supporting them can help charities make a real difference and amplify the call for action to end homelessness.

Over 80 members of the Deloitte team are sleeping out in London, Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh in support of One Million Futures charity and social enterprise partners helping to end homelessness.

Sign up for the latest updates

Key contact

Richard Houston

Richard Houston

Partner, Executive Group

Richard Houston was elected to serve as Senior Partner and Chief Executive of both Deloitte North and South Europe (NSE) and Deloitte UK from 1 June 2019. He is a member of the Deloitte Global Executive and is responsible for connecting the breadth and depth of capabilities of over 50,000 people and 3,000 partners in NSE to deliver value for clients and make a difference in society. In his previous role, Richard led the UK and North West Europe Consulting practices and has over 20 years of experience in Consulting and Financial Services. Richard has been a partner since 1998, having previously worked at Arthur Andersen and in industry for HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland.