Corporate 'Sleepout' Goes National
21 April 2010 at 11:08 am
The annual Vinnies CEO sleepout goes national this year as corporate leaders across the country are urged to sleep on the streets to raise funds for the homeless.
The 2010 Sleepout organised by the St Vincent de Paul Society will take place in cities across Australia to give business leaders the opportunity to experience homelessness themselves for a night, in the hope of bringing about a change in societal opinions.
The Sleepout on Thursday 17 June 2010 hopes to raise $1.5 million in support of homeless services. The organisation says that with over 105,000 people sleeping out every night across Australia, this is no light matter.
The Vinnies CEO Sleepout began in 2006 in Sydney and in 2009 more than 200 CEOs helped raise over $620,000.
The charity says in this year of rising unemployment and economic uncertainty, many individuals and families have been forced into a place of disadvantage they had never expected to be – first time homelessness.
It says the aim of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout is to not only raise funds, but awareness of the many faces of homelessness; breaking down commonly held stereotypes.
The goal is not just to accommodate the homeless, but to help show people how to make different and better choices in life. The discomfort of sleeping on the streets is just part of the lesson they hope to impart upon influential leaders of the community.
National CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Dr John Falzon, says the event captures the real concern in the community about social inequality and an increasing awareness by business that it can have a role in addressing the situation.
Dr Falzon says the night is not an easy one with participants literally bedding down on a sheet of cardboard on the ground, with only a mug of soup to sustain them, on what is usually one of the coldest nights of the year.
He says last year it rained non-stop, but still most of those who were there have indicated they will come back again this year.
He says the experience of stepping into another person’s shoes like this, to get a tiny sense of what it must be like to have no home, can change the way you think about the world and the business leaders who have chosen to do this say it is literally a life-changing experience.
Dr Falzon says it is especially important for the “big end of town” to understand the issues surrounding homelessness, as they were often the ones who had the power to influence change and make a difference.
Dr Falzon says all the money raised would go to Vinnies homelessness services including night patrol/soup van services, hostels for men, family services, refuges for women and their children escaping domestic violence, mental health services, and education and recreation facilities offering life skills courses, training and access to medical, legal and financial advice.
Visit www.ceosleepout.org.au for event details and information