When you are feeling cold at home spare a thought for the thousands of people sleeping rough, in their cars or couch surfing.
The annual Hills Winter Sleep Out is now in its tenth year and aims to give people an understanding of what homeless people face every night.
This year’s event at Bella Vista Farm spans from 4pm Saturday, August 5th to 10am Sunday, August 6th and raises funds for Hills Community Aid’s Homeless Prevention Initiative and StreetMed which offers First Aid services and food to people living rough.
Mici Beer, Executive Officer at Hills Community Aid said since 2020 there has been a 186% increase in the number of people contacting HCA for financial support services, “this includes people experiencing homelessness, DV, and financial hardship”.
“Over the past year (2023 financial year) we have had 6,027 calls from people requiring financial assistance,” she said “ (and) we spent $6,980 on food vouchers to assist people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.”
She said one woman receiving help had escaped a DV situation and is still in recovery mode. Even though she works full time and receives allowances for her son who has special needs she is struggling.
Mici said money raised at last year’s Sleep Out has given the client some “breathing space” and prevented her and her son from being homeless.
Founder of The Hills Winter Sleep Out Dr Michelle Byrne said it had been an eye opener for people taking part and the funds raised were needed more than ever.
“With the increased cost of living coupled with soaring energy costs, more and more families and individuals are doing it tough in our own community,” she said.
“The sleep out is an opportunity to raise much needed funds to help those who are homeless or one step away from becoming homeless. We are sleeping out so others, including women and children, don’t have to.”
Speakers from The Big Issue magazine will again come and talk to participants about how selling the magazine has made a difference to their lives.