Bev JordanCommunity News

Hills Winter Sleepout 2022

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″ offset=”vc_col-lg-1/5 vc_col-md-1/5 vc_col-xs-1/5″][us_image image=”67173″ size=”thumbnail” align=”left” style=”circle” has_ratio=”1″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/12″ offset=”vc_col-lg-4/5 vc_col-md-4/5 vc_col-xs-4/5″][vc_column_text]By Bev Jordan[/vc_column_text][us_post_date][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Chris Cleary knows exactly what it’s like living on the streets. The founder of the StreetMed charity has spent years talking to the homeless, providing First Aid and food.
StreetMed and Hills Community Aid will both be getting funds to help the homeless and those at risk through the 2022 Hills Winter Sleepout at Bella Vista Farm on Saturday, August 13th.

Cris Cleary said: “It’s been the coldest winter I can remember for so long and patrons are dying, patrons are at risk of dying, patrons are at risk of frostbite and cold related injuries. Hypothermia and exposure are a real thing for those that don’t have the ability to have a roof over their heads at night.

“Every person lost, every person admitted to hospital due to exposure, every person we treat with excessive cold related injuries breaks another piece of my heart and soul. As a society we can and MUST do better! The last two years of Covid has had a significant impact on our abilities to raise funds and right now we have a call to action and make a difference to those who rely on organisations like ours StreetMed and Hills Community Aid. “

Last year’s Hills Winter Sleepout raised a record breaking $50,119. $5000 went to StreetMed and the rest went to the Hills Homeless Prevention Initiative (HHPI) run by Hills Community Aid.

For the last four financial years (up to June 30th 2022) funds from HHPI have helped 177 adults and 107 children at the risk of being homeless. Executive officer at Hills Community Aid Mici Beer said that applications were up by 27% in the 2021/22 financial year.

“Of those, 29% of applications were from people affected by domestic violence and 36% of applications disclosed that they have a disability,” she said.

Many were facing the stress of increases in rent at a time when they were facing reduced hours or shifts or were having to time off because they or their children had COVID. The first winter sleepout was held in 2014 and had 40 participants. It has grown substantially since then.

Founder Michelle Byrne said: “The Sleepout over the years has taught me how hidden homelessness can be in the Hills.

“You can easily walk past someone who is experiencing homeless and not even know it. “It is important we continue to shine a light on homelessness and its causes such as DV, severe financial crisis, relationship/family breakdowns, mental illness etc whilst ensuring that help is accessible for those who need it.

“I have also learnt a lot about the important work local charities such as Hills Community Aid and StreetMed do and have heard the incredible stories of lives turned around as a result of funds raised by the sleep out.”

Joining the Hills Winter Sleepout at Bella Vista Farm on Saturday August 13th will give people a chance to hear from volunteers working with the homeless through StreetMed and the Shining Light Foundation as well as speakers from Hills Community Aid and Kenthurst Rotary which is supporting a transitional housing project for older women at risk.

There will be a sausage sizzle by Norwest Sunrise Rotary Club and tea/coffee by Hills Daily Grind.

The Hills to Hawkesbury Community News has already registered a team.

To join The Hills Winter Sleepout visit the Facebook page or register online at[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Bev Jordan

Bev Jordan studied journalism at Harlow College in the UK.  She achieves a Diploma in Journalism from the National Council for the Training of Journalists. After migrating to Australia at the end of 1984, she took up a Senior Journalist position with Cumberland Newspapers, based on the Parramatta Advertiser. She has since worked on the Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald and was a lecturer in Journalism at Macleay College in Sydney. Bev returned to Cumberland Newspapers (NewsLocal) and worked for 30 years covering all different mastheads, including Mosman Daily, Mount Druitt Standard and finally Hills Shire Times for the last 17 of those years. Bev’s passion has always been local community journalism.  She says “As a journalist, I have always seen it as my job to inform, inspire and involve.  I am a passionate advocate for organisations and people making a difference to the world around them. Connectedness is so important to the health of an individual but also to a community, no matter how small or large.

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