Although a lot of us are sick of being stuck at home due to lockdown, thousands of people across Greater Sydney would love to have somewhere safe, secure and permanent to sleep.
In light of the recent Homelessness Week, young people from the parishes of The Good Shepherd, Plumpton, Our Lady of the Rosary, Kellyville and Our Lady of Lourdes, Seven Hills, are raising awareness of homelessness by participating in the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Community Sleepout on Friday night.
Traditionally, the youth groups would gather to sleep rough either at their parish, or as part of the Vinnies Western Sydney Sleepout event at Western Sydney University.
This year, the three parish groups will meet on Zoom to discuss homelessness before sleeping in their backyards, couches or cars.
Patricia Pacleb from The Good Shepherd Parish is excited that the parish is participating in their third Sleepout as a community, and is happy that the different parishes have come together.
“As a youth group, we would pray for the homeless and the people who don’t have anyone to pray for them. Having that in mind, I wanted to do something that involved the youth and connected them to something a bit more practical,” she said.
“It’s a great opportunity to put our faith and prayers into actual practice.”
Ian Epondulan from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish explained how the Sleepout is an opportunity to place himself in the shoes of those doing it tough.
“Last year [during the Sleepout] we had the opportunity to reflect on a Gospel reading [Matthew 25:31-46] on Jesus’ ministry in feeding the poor, visiting the sick and visiting those in prison. In a way, this connecting online [for the Sleepout] is a work of mercy.”
He explained how, while he would prefer to volunteer and help those who need it face to face, it’s not possible due to the COVID lockdown. He is grateful that Vinnies in Western Sydney is continuing to provide this care on behalf of the community.
Both Patricia and Ian thanked their parishes for their support, and advocated for people to do their bit to bring people out of homelessness.
“It’s been a tough couple of years with COVID and it’s hard for everyone, but just imagine yourself being in the position where you don’t have somewhere to come home to or a family to lean on. When you are in a position to donate or raise awareness, it is a great help for Vinnies,” Patricia said.
Ian added, “We’re in a first world country in Australia, yet we still have these concerns of homelessness in our own backyard of Western Sydney. Even though a lot of us are struggling during this pandemic, we should put ourselves in the shoes of someone else doing it tougher than us.”
The Vinnies Community Sleepout gives communities a glimpse of the realities of homelessness on a personal level by encouraging them to sleep rough for one night.
On any given night, around 116,000 Australians experience homelessness, with more than 15,000 Australian children under 12 not having a permanent home and 60% of the homeless population being under the age of 35.
If you wish to join our young people in sleeping rough, or want to join their Awareness Night via Zoom, visit their Facebook event here.
From 8am today, every donation made to the Vinnies Community Sleepout will be matched dollar for dollar up to $5000 thanks to Parra Leagues Club. If you donate today, your donation will be doubled, helping Vinnies Support Centres in Western Sydney deliver essential services to more people in need.
If you wish to donate, please visit their fundraising pages:
- The Good Shepherd Parish, Plumpton – https://my.fundraise.vinniesnsw.org.au/vinnies-community-sleepout-western-sydney-2021/good-shepherd-plumpton
- Our Lady of Lourdes, Seven Hills – https://my.fundraise.vinniesnsw.org.au/vinnies-community-sleepout-western-sydney-2021/lourdes-young-adults-group-seven-hills
- Our Lady of the Rosary, Kellyville – https://my.fundraise.vinniesnsw.org.au/vinnies-community-sleepout-western-sydney-2021/faith-lam