“Let us do without hesitation whatever good lies at our hands” — Frederic Ozanam (Founder of the St Vincent de Paul Society)
Dozens of local business and community leaders will come together on Thursday 20 June at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus for the eighth annual Wollongong Vinnies CEO Sleepout, forgoing a night of comfort to help make a tangible difference to the lives of those less fortunate.
As well as raising money for crucial Vinnies services and programs providing food, accommodation and support to people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage, the initiative is a chance for Wollongong leaders to gain a better understanding of the issue and how they can continue to make an impact through their own work.
As part of their night in the cold, they'll hear firsthand from people with lived experiences of homelessness and housing stress, and learn more about the valuable grassroots assistance Vinnies provides.
Representing our educational community will be CEDoW’s Head of Service, Catholic Life, Education and Mission, Ken Bryant. Armed with only a cardboard box, Mr Bryant will be taking part in the Sleepout to raise funds in support of Vinnies’ frontline services.
This is the second time Mr Bryant has participated in the CEO Sleepout, and the fifth year the Diocese has been involved in the event - raising more than $32,000 to date. “CEDoW has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to supporting initiatives that benefit our community,” Mr Bryant said.
“As we begin our winter season, we're reminded that the needs of our communities often grow during these colder months. Sadly, a number of members of our school communities have experienced and continue to experience degrees of homelessness that impact significantly on the wellbeing of families and students in our care.”
The 2016 Census figures show that, on any given night, more than 116,000 people nationwide are thought to have no permanent home. In NSW, the number of people experiencing homelessness increased by 37% between 2011 and 2016 to more than 37,700.
Homelessness in women aged over 55 is on the rise, and NSW has seen a 36% increase in the number of 12-24 year olds without stable, secure and appropriate housing, with family violence being a key driver of this alarming statistic.
Vinnies Wollongong Central Council Executive Officer, Peter Quarmby, believes that corporate Australia can make a positive impact in the lives of people experiencing homelessness. “Beyond helping to raise money, leaders can play an important role in the development of innovative ideas and lend their influence to finding the solutions to end homelessness,” he said.
“From the work we do at Vinnies, we know that people trying to get into the rental market or who can’t afford to stay in their rental properties as a result of a variety of factors are the ones most at risk of homelessness.
“We hope to foster awareness of the reality of the issue - young people, women and families resorting to couch surfing, overcrowded accommodation, living out of cars or sleeping rough - and focus on educating and supporting business leaders so they can best assist those experiencing disadvantage and homelessness. Everyone has the right to a home,” he added.
Donate now towards Ken’s fundraising efforts
With donations open until Wednesday 31 July, Mr Bryant hopes to raise $5,000 to contribute to the collective Wollongong CEO Sleepout fundraising target of $200,000 – there’s a way to go, but we know our community is up for it!
HOW YOUR CEO SLEEPOUT DONATIONS HELP LOCAL VINNIES' SERVICES
Wollongong's Vinnies CEO Sleepout in 2018 raised $170,000, helping to fund existing homelessness and mental health services across the Macarthur, Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands, including:
- Vinnies Van – providing more than 16,500 meals and a range of essential items to support those in need across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven each year, and helping to foster connections between clients and other support services;
- Nagle Centre family care and support service – assisting people and families experiencing crisis and disadvantage in the Macarthur region by providing almost 7,000 meals per year, as well as counselling and social activities, including trauma-informed yoga classes;
- Jim da Silva Farm – promoting personal growth and living skills while providing medium-long term accommodation for men experiencing homelessness who are dealing with ongoing mental illness, drug and alcohol issues or emotional disturbance in the Shoalhaven region; and
- Assistance to individuals and families across the Diocese of Wollongong who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness by helping to reduce severe financial stress, providing vouchers and food hampers, supplying clothing and household items via Vinnies shops, and connecting them with housing options.