Western Sydney community invited to rise to the challenge for second annual sleepout

17 July 2019
(L-R): Western Sydney Community Sleepout Ambassador, Susan Goldie, St Vincent de Paul Society Parramatta Central Council President, Anne Stanfield, CEO Sleepout Founder, Bernie Fehon and Western Sydney University Pro-Vice Chancellor Simon Barrie. Image: St Vincent de Paul Society NSW.

 

Vinnies is calling on business and community representatives from across Western Sydney to register for the Vinnies Western Sydney Community Sleepout.

An initiative of the St Vincent de Paul Society, and following on from the national Vinnies CEO Sleepout, Community Sleepout events provide everyday people with a brief glimpse into the harsh reality of homelessness faced by more than 116,000 Australians on any given night.

The local event will see dozens of participants come together to spend a night in the cold at Western Sydney University’s Parramatta South Campus on Friday 30 August, aiming to raise awareness and much-needed funds to support those at risk of homelessness across Western Sydney.

A February 2019 Parramatta City Council count found more than 90 rough sleepers in the Parramatta CBD and fringes – an increase of 44 per cent from the previous year. At the same time, a total of 394 people experiencing homeless were counted across the local government area, which was the highest number recorded since the count began in 2010.

In response to the growing issue, organisers of the Western Sydney event hope to raise $80,000 in support of Vinnies services that aim to prevent homelessness. The money raised will help fund emergency relief and financial assistance for people facing homelessness; and address social isolation through support, advocacy and referral programs.

Vinnies’ Parramatta Central Council President, Anne Stanfield, said there’s a growing need for Vinnies services across the region, with cost of living and housing stress seeing people struggle to make ends meet.

“Through our work in local communities, we’re often seeing families having to choose between keeping the lights on and putting food on the table. By committing to spending a night in the elements as a participant of the event, or by sponsoring a family member, friend or colleague who does, you’ll be making a tangible difference to our capacity to support those in need,” Ms Stanfield said.

Western Sydney Community Sleepout Ambassador and St Vincent de Paul Society NSW executive, Susan Goldie, has a personal fundraising goal of $5,000 for this year’s event and encouraged local businesses and community groups to get involved to show that, as a community, we stand together.

“Homelessness doesn’t just happen because of one thing; it can be so many of life’s pressures which can ultimately lead to individuals and families finding themselves without a safe place to call home.

“I’m hopeful that, with the support of community members and business leaders across the region, the Western Sydney Community Sleepout will help highlight the issue and mobilise activity, resources and support toward the cause, and make a real difference to those reaching out to Vinnies,” Mrs Goldie said.

Why support the Western Sydney Community Sleepout?

The St Vincent de Paul Society provided more than $939,500 in material assistance to struggling individuals and families across Western Sydney in the 2018-19 financial year. Our work in the region relies heavily on the selfless commitment of volunteers and is primarily funded by revenue from Vinnies shops and the generosity of donors. The 2019 Western Sydney Community Sleepout aims to raise $80,000 to ensure the continuation of a range of initiatives that help prevent homelessness by providing a ‘hand up’ to those in need.

According to Communities of Change: Western Sydney Now and Into the Future (May 2018):

  • Western Sydney has an estimated resident population of close to 2.4 million people – housing almost half of Greater Sydney’s population.
  • The median weekly gross household income in Western Sydney is $145 per week less than the Greater Sydney median.
  • A higher proportion of households in Western Sydney experience mortgage stress compared to Greater Sydney.
  • 32.8 per cent of households who rent in Western Sydney experience rental stress, more than six per cent higher than the Greater Sydney rate of 26.4 per cent.
  • The rate of unemployment in Western Sydney is 7.1 per cent.

Register to participate, sponsor a participant, or learn more about the initiative at www.communitysleepout.org.au/western-sydney

With thanks to the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW.

 

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