Last night I slept outside along with 250-odd other CEOs in the NSW chapter of the CEO Sleepout.
With the help of my amazing group of friends and relatives, I raised $5,220 for this cause that raised in total $4.75m to combat homelessness. To put that in perspective, last year’s sleep out raised $2.5m; the sleep outs since 2006 have raised a total of nearly $13m – but Vinnies spends over $13m every year on this problem alone.
I thought that I was raising money and would sleep out in the cold for a night and that would be it. I was wrong. Here’s why.
We had presentations from people who have been homeless and have had their lives changed by Vinnies’ work funded by kind donations. The talk that moved me most was that of Krystal. She has been homeless for 10 years. And she is 21. Think about that. A lifelong history of abuse, neglect and hardship has dealt her blow after blow and taken her to the pit of depression with no prospects. But she is so strong, and with Vinnies help, she is now studying at Tafe. Unfortunately, being 21 she is no longer suitable for youth housing, but cannot get assisted housing without a job. Lastnight, a CEO gave Krystal a job – and Vinnies are moving her into housing close by tomorrow. That tells me this problem really isn’t that hard, but more importantly it’s a triumph of the human spirit on all sides.
We had breakout sessions where CEOs worked together on ideas to combat underlying issues contributing to homelessness. My group’s was education – both as a way to break the cycle of joblessness leading to homelessness, and to educate people about homelessness and who it affects. The group was also attended by Sebastian of 100things.com.au who made the excellent suggestion of setting up a blog for the homeless and others to talk about and solve real issues, and to educate the wider community about homelessness. He has spent the entire week sleeping rough to learn about this issue and to see what can be done to help.
I pledged to help by hosting such a blog at Bulletproof, and by educating people about homelessness in any way I could.
Here’s a couple of things you may not have known: 44% of women and children who are homeless are fleeing domestic violence. 12,000 children under 12 have nowhere to go on any given night nationally.
Think about these facts and decide if they’re acceptable to you.
I have had wonderful support in the form of kind words and donations. If you are reading this, and you are moved to act, please do these 4 things:
- If you made a donation, tell someone what you did by helping this cause – you should be proud of it!
- Watch this video.
- Talk to a homeless person. They are people like you and me who are nearly always put in their plight by circumstances beyond their control.
- Sponsor me next year!
I feel this is the start of a journey.