Coast unites to sleep rough for homeless

Tue, 20th Jun 2017
PREVIEW

Our politicians and business leaders will forego their warm beds to raise money for the Coast’s 1500 homeless people. 

This year, more than 1500 Sunshine Coast men, women and children will find themselves homeless and struggling to find a warm place to sleep at night.

In the eight months to March 1, the St Vincent de Paul Northern Diocese provided support to 400 homeless individuals, including 250 children, and the need for more transitional housing is paramount.

Sunshine Coast Airport general manager Peter Pallot found out first-hand how difficult it is to sleep rough when he joined the Coast’s St Vincent de Paul Corporate and Community Sleepout in 2015. 

Pallot, who is preparing to join 32 Sunshine Coast Business Council (SCBC) members and politicians for his third annual event on June 29, says his first experience sleeping on the beach on a winter’s night was an eye-opener.

“It was a night of learning. The experience brought into sharp focus the challenges that some people experience each and every night, simple things like finding a place out of the wind, a place that is safe, and coming to grips with not being able to access a shower or even a hot meal,” he says.

“An enduring memory of my first Sleepout was to hear first-hand the stories of some of those helped by the program and understanding how quickly circumstances can affect our lives. I look at my own girls and think about other kids of the same age who, through circumstances often beyond their control, end up without the support network that many take for granted.  

“The next morning there was a realisation that people have to do this each and every day and how tough that must be. I was grateful that the small contribution that we made via the CEO Sleepout would help make it a little easier for others.”

SCBC president Sandy Zubrinich says the Sleepout participants, which have more than doubled since last year, aim to raise $50,000 for homeless services. 

 “In the first year, there’s some comfort in not knowing what’s ahead, really,” she admits.

“After the lovely opening ceremony that reinforces why you are doing what you are doing, you are sent to get a piece of cardboard and a sleeping bag and find somewhere on the beach to bunk down. It is very difficult at that point. The cold seeps through your body. Last year, we had around about six or seven degrees through the night.”

“It’s easy to take for granted just how lucky many of us are to have a roof over our heads and food on the table each day, and this event really does open your eyes to the tough conditions our region’s homeless face night after night.”

St Vincent de Paul Society Northern Diocesian president Ian Laherty says funds raised from the nation-wide Sleepout would be used to provide emergency accommodation and food, with a long-term goal of establishing a supply of transitional housing on the Sunshine Coast.

To donate to the cause, visit communitysleepout.org.au. Tickets can also be purchased online for a chance to win a CX3 Mazda via the 2017 Vinnies Corporate and Community Sleepout Art Union draw, with all proceeds being put towards homeless services.