VPCM’s CEO, Rachel Johnson, gives sincere thanks to everyone who donated to the Vinnies CEO Sleepout that she participated in last night (18 June 2020).
“Together we raised over $5000 for the homeless appeal in just one week.
“The format for the CEO Sleepout was changed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were given three options, to sleep in their car, on the couch or in their back garden. I decided to sleep in my backyard, making a bed with some cardboard packing boxes.
“The event was online and interactive. Through on-screen discussions, videos and live crosses to Vinnies services and participating CEOs, everyone was given the chance to learn about homelessness in Australia. The broadcast began at 7:30 pm with an introduction to the work that Vinnies does and the role that business and the community can play to support that work.
“Then we heard from people who have experienced homelessness. I was particularly moved by a lady who described her life with her children living with an abusive partner.
“She slowly found herself isolated from friends and family and suddenly had nowhere to go. When she finally left home and found a room with Vinnies she would wake up again and again through the night fearful that she would be found and hurt. She was so very grateful to have Vinnies counsellors to talk to.
“The CEO Sleepout is not intended to be a real experience of homelessness but is a way of encouraging empathy and awareness. Listening to people who have experienced homelessness provides a glimpse into what tens of thousands of Australians experience every day.
“The longer-term impacts of social isolation, physical danger and long-term mental and other health effects must have a devastating effect on the lives of vulnerable people.
“Last night in my backyard, I found it unusual hearing people walking past even quite late at night, and hearing vehicles and other noises. Sleeping in the street must be frightening and lonely and I am glad to have been the conduit to raise money and help fund vital support services.
“The most important people in this fundraising event are those who donated so generously. I appreciate your compassion and willingness to help those who are experiencing homelessness.”