A powerful video showing a millionaire businessman sleeping rough on the streets of Northampton during a freezing January weekend has raised £3,000 for one of the town’s homeless charities.
Former special constable Matt Stockdale, who now runs policewitness.com, filmed himself during three cold nights at the end of January as part of a sponsored effort for Northampton’s Hope Centre.
The footage, which he posted on Youtube only three days ago has already been viewed more than 10,000 times on Facebook and has seen the entrepreneur raise more than £3,000 for the charity.
During the three-minute video Mr Stockdale can be seen attempting to sleep under tarpaulin in pouring rain, struggling with fatigue, hunger and the severe cold.
“It was one of the toughest things I have ever done,” he said. “There were times I thought I couldn’t go on.”
Mr Stockdale, a father of one, shot his three days on the street with a camera phone.
Other than that all he took with him was a sheet of blue tarpaulin, carrying the words, ‘I don’t need money, just kindness’.
His time on the street was plagued with difficulties, from avoiding the wet, finding places to go to the toilet and hoping passers by would help him out with food.
Most people he said avoided his gaze, he claimed though some on Saturday were kind enough to bring him food and hot drinks, including two teenage girls.
On the experience he said: “The best way I could describe it would be, it was like having your soul sucked out.
“Time has no meaning, you have no meaning, it is almost like you are in another world.”
The businessman claims to have led a troubled youth and was a runaway teen himself. He currently runs a firm which aims to arm motorists with in-car cameras to catch dangerous drivers on film.
He believes homelessness can happen to anyone, and says the preconception many people have of rough sleepers having alcohol or drug addictions is untrue.
Since filming the video between January 29 and 31, Mr Stockdale has returned to the streets of Northampton deliver sleeping bags and equipment to other rough sleepers to help them out.
One woman he met during his three days had even asked him whether he knew someone who could “rip her toenails off” because she could not afford a nail clipper.
Chairman of the Hope Centre’s board of trustees, Adrian Pryce, praised the bravery of Mr Stockdale.
He said: “It really brings into context the despair of someone who doesn’t have a home will see.”
Mr Pryce believes there are between 40 and 50 people sleeping rough in Northampton every night, double the official figures, because many people hide in private places, skips, abandoned buildings that are not be seen on routine inspections.
To add to Mr Stockdale’s fundraising efforts head to www.justgiving.com/Matt-Stockdale