Tenth Vinnies CEO Sleepout raises record amount
It was cold, but it could have been colder.
Between 2am and 3am the temperature at Canberra Airport Hangar 47 dipped to -4 (felt like -7.8) but at least there was no frost.
And at least it was just one night.
That was the take away for the participants of the tenth Canberra Vinnies CEO Sleepout, which raises awareness and funds for the homeless each year. It’s tough enough to do it one night year. Imagine living this way every night.
And raise funds they certainly did. At the time of writing this almost three quarters of a million had been raised locally… a record… and all of it earmarked towards items, programs and other forms of assistance for people regularly sleeping rough.
Along with raising funds, the participants also experience a small fraction of the privations of homelessness, making the exercise not only practical but experiential.
Some found the freezing coldness the greatest hardship (and that’s despite being rugged up far better than a lot of people with fewer choices and fewer resources).
Some found trying to sleep on the hard ground the toughest part. And that’s part of the rules… you get a piece of cardboard and no swag, no mattress.
In addition to the CEOs, a small and seemingly tireless army of Vinnies staff and volunteers swarmed around the hangar , running activities, preparing food and beverages and assisting in a variety of ways.
In the evening, many of the “Sleepers” (although quite a few disputed if that description was strictly accurate) participated in “Walk a Mile” activities, in which they were given one of a variety of profiles of homeless people, and walked through various services… Centrelink, Samaritan House, Night Patrol etc… to emulate the services they had to access in a standard day.
Following that, a video detailed the practical areas of assistance that fund-raising is directed to, and a discussion panel talked through some of the issues and policies surrounding homelessness.
Lights were out well before midnight and most were up and about by 5am.
Most of the participants turned around and went to work today… some after nicking home for a quick shower, some raw, disheveled and looking like something from the Walking Dead to better understand the effect of trying to get through a full day following a night of bitter coldness and little sleep.
Funds were raised. Awareness was raised.
Poverty and homelessness sadly weren’t eradicated and there remains much to do, but they were assisted.