Hi All,

As most of you know, a few weeks ago I participated in Vinnies CEO Sleepout, to help raise money and awareness of homelessness in Australia. As part of the challenge, I joined 70 other Australian CEOs to spend the night sleeping outside and experience life on the street.

There are over 100,000 Australians homeless every night, and while 80% of these people are looked after by organisations like Vinnies and the Salvation Army, this still leaves over 20,000 of them without support – a further 20% of these are less than 12 y/o!

The Sleepout was a very humbling and grounding experience, which exposed me to a world I had never taken the time to understand, and made me aware of the challenges faced by many Australians each and every night.

We all enjoyed a cup of soup and a bread roll for dinner on the night provided by the Vinnies Vans, and this gave us the opportunity to speak with some of the volunteers. These people do an amazing job each night, and are truly an inspiration.

Afterwards, we retreated to our beds for the night – a thin mattress on the bare concrete. Even with a sleeping bag, it was freezing cold outside on a 4 degree winter night – I can’t imagine how cold it would be with any less cover.

I had a reality moment at one stage when I looked out at the city in darkness and realised “What if I was out there alone, with no one to help, no mobile phone to call for assistance, no money and no food?”

In addition to the freezing cold, which is hard enough to bear, there are hundreds of other risks to consider, such as being robbed of possessions or assaulted by passersby – usually just because they think its fun. 

Personally, if I were in that situation each night, I have absolutely no idea how I would cope.

Homelessness really is an indictment on our great country that this exists. It’s even more worrying that the numbers are increasing and not reducing, which is why we are so lucky to have organisations such as Vinnies.

This year, Vinnies raised $4.9m in Australia, with over $600k raised in Victoria. This money will be used to improve the services provided and hopefully alleviate homelessness in Australia. I would personally like to thank each and every person who supported me. I raised over $6,000 in the end.

For anyone who still wishes to support the cause, Vinnies are accepting donations until the end of August. You can visit my personal page to make a donation:

http://www.ceosleepout.org.au/ceos/vic-ceos/robin-norris-lh-group

Congratulations to Vinnies on this incredible campaign. It certainly made me think about homelessness in a completely new way and I definitely plan on doing it again next year.

Regards,

Robin