We have some really exciting news to announce; while we have loved sharing office space with the ladies at A Business Innovation, both companies are growing rapidly and so we decided to find our own office base in London so we both had plenty of space to expand! We also wanted something really central so we could easily visit clients and they can pop in for a coffee!

After much searching, we have settled on some gorgeous office space in Euston Tower http://www.eustontower.com. We will be on the 33rd floor, the views are amazing and we will be sharing the building with companies such as JPM, Santander and HMRC. Oh, and there’s a ‘thinking room’ filled with bean bags for when we need some space for inspiration!

We’re really excited to get moved in and will be looking to add to our London team so would welcome any paraplanners or administrators to get in touch if they want to chat through the vacancies we have available.

And we’ll send out details of a little moving in party we’ll be holding in May very soon.

Thanks as always to all our clients and everyone who has supported us, and particular thanks to Abbie and the girls at A Business Innovation for housing us over the last few months.

More announcements to come soon so keep watching this space …

The Para-Sols Team

Just a quick post to update you on our sleeping rough and to say a huge thank you!

We really had no idea what to expect; we were told to turn up with lots of clothes, a sleeping bag and some cardboard – and so we did! Arriving at around 8pm (with the sleepout schedule for 8pm to 8am) we found a spot plonked down our cardboard to make it our own and settled in. All in all I understand there were around 100 people spread across two sites and it’s fair to say ours was a lively bunch!

We tried very hard not to put on too many clothes or climb into our sleeping bag too early knowing the early hours of the morning were when we would need them the most. Instead, we drank copious amounts of tea and chatted away the first few hours of the night.

When the rain starting lashing it down and wind blew it in from the side (meaning the small bit of cover above our head wasn’t as useful as we’d like) we realised how difficult it could get. That said, we were incredibly fortunate; the temperature barely dropped below freezing and the rain didn’t last all night. When we packed up and left the following morning, almost immediately it began to snow and so we got off lightly all things considered!

There were a couple of points in the night where the cold started to get quite severe, burrowing deep into our bones – we were fortunate that the Middlesbrough College (where the sleepout was held) had bathrooms to use and an endless supply of hot water for drinks – something people living on the streets are not lucky enough to have – and a couple of minutes inside grabbing a drink was enough to stave off the worst of the cold.

Otherwise, the most difficult thing was getting comfortable! It was impossible to get sleep as it was impossible to lay comfortable – lay on your side and your hips dig into the concrete, lay on your front or back and the various metal bits of your jeans dig in to everywhere else! And no pillow – impossible, just impossible to get comfy when the only thing under your head is a thin layer of cardboard and then solid, cold concrete!

When morning dawned (surprisingly bright as you can see from the picture!) we were fortunate enough to be able to pack up our belongings and go home for a bit of sleep and a long hot bath. It took 3-4 days to fully recover from the weariness the night left – and that was just one night!

But it was all worth it; aside from all the awareness the event raised (which could clearly be seen on Twitter!) Natalie and I raised almost £700 between us and early estimates for the overall event and all sponsorship is a total of between £25,000 and £30,000. So, from the bottom of our hearts…. thank you to everyone who sponsored us. We’re super grateful. Almost as grateful as we are for our fluffy pillows!

Hi folks – a quick post to say thank you so much for everyone who has donated so far, you’re extremely kind. If you haven’t yet but would like to there’s still time – the ground has kindly frozen solid under several inches of snow – just to make sure we get the true experience!

I also wanted to share with you the following story which I came across from another guy who is taking part in the sleep out – being homeless at the age of 14 is truly unimaginable and really hit home for me why we are doing this:

“I came home from school one day when I was 14 to find my house empty. My mother had left me and my 16-year-old brother a note saying that she’d made a decision to get on with her own life on her own. My father, an alcoholic, was long gone, my brother moved in with his girlfriend, so I was left on my own, aged 14.

“I used to sleep in cardboard boxes or derelict buildings. At the time I convinced myself I wasn’t scared but deep down I definitely was. I eventually got to the lowest point you can get when I was 16. I tried to kill myself with tablets but I woke up in North Tees Hospital.”

“Those taking part in the sleep-out are in for a very uncomfortable, strange night. It will give them a small insight into the lives of those people who can’t shut the door at night and do things as simple as switching on the TV or turning on a tap, the things we all take for granted. I’ve got a bad hip, but I am going to do it. For me, it’s about trying to allay some of my ghosts. There are literally hundreds of homeless people on Teesside now and I’m fearful we’ll see a lot more of it the longer the current economic climate continues. That’s why we need to raise as much money as possible to help our homeless.”

This is the story of Len who thankfully overcame his problems and is now a serving councillor in Middlesbrough and he will also be taking part this weekend. Thanks again everyone and the JustGiving page is here… http://justgiving.co.uk/natalie-bell5 

So a few weeks ago I turned 30; and as part of that I did the whole life evaluating thing, dyed my hair purple and learnt how to ride a motorbike. Pretty standard behaviour so far! One of the things my friend and I realised as part of our evaluating is that we’re at that stage in our lives where it’s time to consider giving back. We’re both crazy busy with work, family, friends and life in general and it is all too easy for the months to slip by and our altruistic sides to remain unexplored.

We discussed in particular the kind of giving back we want to do; these discussions were happening around Christmas and we were so grateful to be in our warm houses, surrounded by loved ones and some mulled wine! So we decided to provide some support for people who are homeless which is particularly difficult at that time of the year.

We came across the Big Tees Sleepout @BigTeesSleepout and thought it was a really great way to raise awareness of the issues; it was originally scheduled for January but has been moved back to Saturday 16th March. The organisers have selected a number of charities in the region to benefit from any funds raised but just as important is the awareness of the cause and any support we can provide for people who are not able to benefit from the comforts we can easily take for granted.

We will therefore be pulling on an extra pair of socks, grabbing a sleeping bag and sleeping rough next Saturday – and any spreading of the word/donations would be hugely appreciated. We’ll blog about our experiences afterwards and any other ways we have found to support this cause. Our Just Giving page is: http://justgiving.co.uk/natalie-bell5

Thank you.