Sleepout raises record number for homelessness

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this year there were 370 participants of the Vinnies CEO sleepout – a record number - raising funds and awareness about homelessness. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
This year there were 370 participants of the Vinnies CEO sleepout – a record number – raising funds and awareness about homelessness. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

CEOs experience the hardships of being homeless

As temperatures dropped near to freezing, business, community and government leaders donned their warmest jackets and beanies, took a sheet of cardboard and settled in for a night on the concrete ground of a Sydney Harbour cruise terminal.

Sydney Catholic Schools’ Anthony Cleary was one of the 370 participants of the 20 June Vinnies CEO sleepout – a record number – raising funds and awareness about homelessness.

The SCS director of religious education and evangelisation said it was a small but important taste of the daily challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness.

“The opportunity to be part of something in a very practical way makes you aware of the real difficulties too many people face daily which for us are just small inconveniences,” he said.

“Something like getting caught in the rain, if you’re living on the streets it’s not as simple as putting up with being a bit uncomfortable until you get home for a shower and a hot cup of tea.”

Primary and secondary schools across the city got behind their representative and raised more than $26,000 to support Anthony’s night out in the open, exceeding his fundraising goal of $25,000.

In total, this year’s Sleepout also raised a record $7.3 million for services for people experiencing homelessness.

14 years and $50 million raised for services

Sydney Catholic Schools’ director of religious education and evangelisation Anthony Cleary said it was a small but important taste of the daily challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Sydney Catholic Schools’ director of religious education and evangelisation Anthony Cleary said it was a small but important taste of the daily challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

The outstanding result shows that “despite some of the bad things happening in the world, Australians are still generous people at heart,” said Vinnies NSW CEO Jack de Groot, who also slept out at the White Bay Cruise Terminal.

“We’ve been running this event for 14 years and it gives us such hope to see more and more CEOs taking part every year,” he said.

“Since the CEO Sleepout first started, we’ve raised more than $50 million for counselling, healthcare, accommodation, food and other vital services for people facing homelessness.

“Every dollar counts, but the Vinnies CEO Sleepout is about more than money. It’s about acknowledging that both governments and businesses need to do more for people doing it tough.

“There is an urgent need for more affordable housing and measures to decrease the cost of living in Sydney, and we hope that’s a message that the CEOs will be taking home with them.”

More than 1,600 participants took part in cities and regional centres across the country.

Mr Cleary said the mid-winter temperatures didn’t bother him so much, it was sleeping on the ground that was “a bit hard on the hips and knees by the end of the night”.

The experience also heightened his respect “for those who day in and day out work or volunteer with people who find themselves homeless, often through no fault of their own,” he said.

Donations remain open until 31 July at https://ceosleepout.org.au
Or donate to Anthony Cleary’s Vinnies Sleepout page.