Within Tasmania, 1600 people are living homeless every day. While tackling social issues is an important role for our community and business leaders sometimes homelessness can be ignored.
The Vinnies CEO Sleepout works every year to raise awareness and much-needed funds to support those in our community who experience homelessness.
Hawks Tasmanian Operations Manager David Cox stressed the importance of participation from local leaders.
“I think people that are in a position of influence have an opportunity to contribute to positive social change, we have a responsibility to support the community in which we live and we have an opportunity to make changes,” he said.
“We share this community with the homeless, others are not as fortunate as us for many reasons so let's help others improve their experience of this City we all share.”
David, who has been participating at the sleepout for two year’s found the experience “transformational” and “confronting.”
“Living in America I would just step over homeless people on a daily basis, for me, homeless people use to be cardboard cutouts, I now realise these are living, breathing human beings and they all have their story to tell,” he said.
“My first sleepout was quite a transformational experience, it really challenged some pre-conceived ideas I had about both homeless people and the reasons behind homelessness, I think it is a very misunderstood and demonised issue through lack of understanding.”
CEO of Tasmanian Independent Retailers, Grant Hinchcliffe will be taking on the sleepout for his 8th year.
Since starting Grant has raised an impressive $123,800 over the years that has gone directly to helping the Tasmanian communities tackle homelessness.
“I’m very fortunate that through the IGA network they are very generous and they do open up their wallets and donate accordingly to the fundraising initiative,” he said.
“I think it is a great cause to be involved with and one of the drivers for me is that out of the 1600 Tasmanian’s that are homeless 27 per cent are children.
“That is such a terrible figure, I’ve got twins and I couldn’t imagine them battling on the streets and I don’t think any child should have to.”
“I think part of the importance of the sleepout is getting rid of the stereotype’s and stigma surrounding homelessness, aside from the facts and figures we are dealing with real people here and in a lot of cases homelessness could have been prevented.”
Grant said he would encourage any community leaders to take part and give up one night of comfort.
“As a community, we should be able to get behind and support organisations like Vinnies.
“Everybody has different scopes of their ability to fund raise, but it’s not about what we can do as individuals and more about what we can raise as a collective, every dollar raised goes to continue the work Vinnies carries out in our community.”