Communities across New South Wales came together in August for the 2023 NSW Vinnies Community Sleepout, demonstrating their unwavering support for the St Vincent de Paul Society and the critical services they provide. A local event was held in Western Sydney which not only met but exceeded all expectations, raising more than $63,000 to date, surpassing the initial target of $50,000.
Held at Western Sydney University’s Parramatta South Campus in Rydalmere, over 60 participants willingly braved the winter cold and had the opportunity to hear from local Vinnies workers on the services they provide and what they witness every day from the nearly 13,000 homeless people in Western Sydney.
The funds raised will be instrumental in supporting four Vinnies Support Centres located in Harris Park, Blacktown, Emerton, and Penrith. These centres play a crucial role in providing material and financial assistance to individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness.CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, Yolanda Saiz, highlighted the increasing need for charitable support in the current economic climate.
“We’re seeing a new demographic of people turning to charities for support over the past 18 months. It has been very concerning to see a growing number of people in employment and families on dual incomes reaching out in a time of desperation because of the cost of living.””Housing costs have been a key driver in the demand for support, with close to half of the people we’ve assisted this past year experiencing housing stress, while one in three people were renting on the private market which has become increasingly volatile,” she said.
In the past year alone, over 86,000 people sought assistance from St Vincent de Paul Society NSW members, with four in five requesting help with food, and one in three seeking support for the first time.
Paul Burton, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW State President, commended the dedicated efforts of their members and staff in meeting the unique needs of those facing hardship every day.
“We should not accept that poverty is an everyday part of life in a country as prosperous as Australia; I hope that by holding the sleepout we can call out the injustices of our society and demand better,” he said.
The 2023 NSW Vinnies Community Sleepouts were held across the State, extending to Albury, Armidale, Tweed Heads, and Wagga Wagga. In NSW, over $2.7 million was raised, nationally over $8 million was raised for the Sleepout.