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Vinnies CEO Sleepout

Dear Editor,

I write to sincerely congratulate the organisers of the inaugural Vinnies CEO Sleepout held in Geelong on Thursday 28thJune.

I was invited – and possibly even self-challenged to participate. I did so with an open mind and humble heart.

Today I am delighted to say that together with 68 CEOs and industry leaders in the Geelong region who slept out at GMHBA Stadium last night, we are far better for the experience.

We have seen a 66 percent rise in demand for welfare support in the greater Geelong region, which keeps the 12,000 Vinnies volunteers in Victoria very busy, and I take this opportunity to also thank each and every one of them.

Until we experience it ourselves, there is no way we can fully understand the impact of homelessness and poverty, than finding yourself sleeping on the streets.

We all slept on pieces of cardboard on top of concrete. It was a very cold night and for those few hours in which not many slept, we experienced what so many less fortunate experience on a daily basis.

Aside from the physical effects of sleeping out – not sleeping, being cold and tired, it is also emotionally draining.

Many homeless people are completely alone, possibly with no family or friends and therefore alone with their thoughts, which must be compelling and harrowing at times. Geelong is a well-acknowledged generous and caring city that supports many worthy causes however it’s a sad fact, we have homeless people in the region.

The truth is there are many people in our State that can’t afford even the basics of food, education, utilities — let alone the shelter and comfort of their own home.

The small contribution we made last night has collectively raised over $100,000 with more to come, it’s shone a bright light in raising awareness of homelessness in our region.

I encourage everyone to do what they can to help those who are down on their luck — in this lucky country.

My sincere and heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Vinnies, all the staff and volunteers who brought us the Inaugural Vinnies Sleepout in Geelong, and succeeded in creating greater community awareness of this growing social problem.