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Helping break the cycle of homelessness

Helping break the cycle of homelessness

Image source: Supplied. St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

This year marks 15 years of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, supporting the many Australians who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Having begun as a simple idea amongst friends, this fundraising initiative has seen hundreds of CEO’s, business owners and community and government leaders sleep outdoors on one of the longest and coldest nights of the year.

The widespread impacts of the Christmas bushfires and COVID-19 have not spared charities. From restrictions on gatherings and reduced spending, to the temporary closure of retail stores, many charities including Vinnies are experiencing a gap in their usual fundraising. To ensure they can continue to deliver their crucial support programs to those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, the Vinnies team were presented with the challenge to pivot their plans for this year’s event. 

For Vinnies Commercial Executive Yolanda Saiz, it was vital that as with previous years, the event remained relatable to the actual realities of homelessness and sleeping rough. The team knew they wouldn’t be able to have a physical event in its traditional format, however they quickly realised they had the adaptability to move to an online forum, creating the framework for a virtual Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

“The idea of people sleeping in their cars or backyards clearly aligned to the many forms of homelessness that you see in the community”, Yolanda said. At registration, participants will nominate an alternate sleeping option and then share their experience with others from all over the country through an interactive live stream program throughout the night.

Vinnies NSW CEO, Jack de Groot, stressed the importance of continued support for the CEO Sleepout. “With an uncertain labour market and rising unemployment and increased calls to crisis lines, we know that we will see a lot of people falling on hard times. Many may be people who for the first time have their housing at risk or fall into homelessness”.  As such, as these effects unfold, it is important to recognize the Sleepout as an influencer event. It is participated in by women and men who sit at the tables of decision makers and can put the issues of homelessness on the agenda to have far reaching impacts on what is a very complex issue.

How can you support the Vinnies CEO Sleepout?

  • Sign up to participate at – Vinnies is calling on all senior executives to take part in this year’s Sleepout. It is a great time to think about some of the big challenges Australians are facing due to COVID-19, one being the increased levels of vulnerability to homelessness.
  • Fundraise – It is critical that we close the gap on funds lost, reach out to your network and call in your peer support.
  • Add your voice to the issues around homelessness and how we can help Australia rebuild and recover post COVID-19, not just in economic stimulus but also in creating the inclusiveness and solidarity to reach out so no one is left behind. You can find some resources and templates here.

Funds raised from the Sleepout will go to supporting programs such as crisis accommodation, domestic violence refuges, food programs, education course, case management counselling, art and music programs, CV preparation and job readiness as well as the Vinnies soup vans operating in most states.