This year, I thought I should give it a go, participate and contribute to the Vinnies CEO sleepout. The idea is that business people spend a night outside in winter, get an understanding and raise funds for the many thousands of homeless people supported by Vinnies. This year’s event was on June 17th.
When we arrived, we took pictures to share on our socials and continue fundraising.
We were given two sheets of cardboard to build our bed, and we got food and drink vouchers.
Then we were invited to listen to several people share their experiences. I heard an artist with a very German accent tell us about the way he lost home, job, access to his child – all within weeks. The difficulties encountered, finding places to stay and trying to get a job. Who helped and where he is at now. He showed amazing optimism, not anger. He explained how important Vinnies was for him, helping without judging.
We heard from others, how they became homeless, many of them victims of domestic violence. There were a few speeches and then we were able to use our food vouchers – soup and a bread roll.
At 9 it was time to make our beds. Those who had done this before – some of the “deep sleepers” – advised to stay away from the bins to avoid rats and use the two layers of cardboard against the cold from the concrete below.
It was the organisers’ stated aim to make us uncomfortable and they did. It was a clear night, no rain, cold, but not freezing. I realised soon that my sleeping bag was more suitable for trips to Queensland than this. I spent most of the night lying awake, listening to snores around me.
But I always knew that I had a hot shower ahead of me and a warm home.
It was a learning experience. It has increased my awareness and my gratitude. And we raised money. I made my budget, and Australia-wide we are almost there.
If you would like to contribute, please go to https://www.ceosleepout.org.au/fundraisers/michaelschulz/new-south-wales
If you would like to know more, participate or nominate someone else for next year, go to https://www.ceosleepout.org.au/