The 2014 Vinnies CEO Sleepout started as a convivial gathering of rugged up Canberra business and government chiefs ready to face the elements with a sleeping bag, a favourite pillow and as many layers of clothes as they could wear. On arrival at the National Film and Sound Archive's courtyard there was a warm welcome from the Vinnies volunteers, an opportunity to stake out their ‘bedroom’ for the night and a mug of soup with a bread roll before most settled in working the ‘room’ to meet and greet those who were going to share this night and to work the phones, facebook and twitter to garner more donations and support for this cause.
And I couldn’t imagine anything worse than sleeping rough in this city. Washington in the 80’s used to shock me as their rough sleepers gathered near the White House to grab the best vent spot as hot air blasted from the surrounding buildings’ exhaust systems. Canberra as far as I know doesn’t have them and huddling around any buildings, under bridges or in doorways must be the most unbearable aspect of homelessness and while many including the Common Ground Housing Project are trying to make a difference in the lives of the homeless to break the cycle and offer hope, this city should find solutions now not later. Being safe and secure, being happy, healthy and housed are basic needs and watching this decent and kind group of Canberra CEOs make this effort said much about our city and what we want for those citizens who are most in need.
Vinnies efforts are commendable and before a head hit a pillow $362,000, had been raised with time still for money to be added to the effort at www.ceosleepout.org.au until 31 August. And no I didn’t bed down on a piece of cardboard in a sleeping bag wearing my thermals, and several layers of clothes, I did that once and that was enough, but if I can encourage you all to donate we can make a difference.