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The Mission to End Homelessness

For the first time, business and community leaders across Australia united for a national online sleepout on 18 June supporting the mission to end homelessness.

In past years the Vinnies CEO Sleepout has comprised several events in major cities across Australia. In 2020, participants joined together for one online nationally streamed broadcast hosted by Dr Andrew Rochford from Sydney, raising more than $5.7 million on the night to help people experiencing homelessness.

Here in Perth, more than 80 CEO’s took part, with some being joined by their families for the sleepout. An outstanding total of nearly $500,000 was reached by the following morning, going towards supporting Vinnies WA unique specialist community services including Passages Youth Engagement Hubs and Vinnies Tom Fisher House.

With the onset of a global health crisis, this year’s event was more vital than ever. There are 116,000 people experiencing homelessness across the country and one in 14 people ‘sleeping rough’. It is that group that is particularly at risk, facing the impossible task of following a directive to “stay at home” when you simply don’t have one.

Besides raising vital funds, a key aim of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout is to provide a greater sense of empathy and awareness of what it’s like for people at risk of, or experiencing homelessness and poverty. This year’s event worked a little differently with business and community leaders being able to nominate their own sleeping location which was a mix of backyards, garages and balconies. A first time participant Sanjiv Manchanda, CEO of Atlas Iron in Perth, woke up the following morning feeling the effects from having chosen to sleep outside his home. He said one night was enough to have a profound impact on his idea of homelessness. “I woke up physically cold and sore and my mind went to thinking what it would feel like if one has to do this everyday. Not only do it everyday but do it with the feeling of not knowing when this will end, if it does at all. I realised at that moment what absence of any hope felt like. In my own time and effort I will continue to do whatever small contribution I can make towards this cause.” he said.

The generous contributions and commitment shown by Western Australian leaders who participate in this event helps shine a light on the plight of people experiencing homelessness, and ensures Vinnies WA can continue to provide the support and resources needed to find a pathway out of homelessness.

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