Participants experienced a night of sleeping under the stars in Newtown Square with nothing more than a sheet of cardboard and a sleeping bag between them and the elements.
“Unfortunately the problem of homelessness is not going away quickly due to the lack of safe and affordable housing available in Sydney for people who are doing it most tough,” said Liz Yeo, CEO of Newtown Neighbourhood Centre (NNC). “In the last 12 months we have seen a significant increase in people sleeping rough in Newtown – often right on our doorstep.”
Each “sleeper” has sought sponsorship of at least $1,000 from friends and colleagues. Funds raised will help NNC provide frontline assistance to the growing number of vulnerable people in the inner west who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
“We believe nobody should have to sleep on the streets if they don’t want to and we have a dedicated team who can assist those who are at risk of homelessness,” says Yeo. “But the demands on services like ours are only growing, and without this support from the wider community it is challenging for us to assist everyone to get on a pathway to safer affordable housing.”
Nick Karatziz from Barmuda café in Australia Street, said: “It’s such a good community around here. Doing this through the café has made it easy, with several customers and neighbours offering to sponsor me.”
Since the inaugural sleepout last year, NNC initiated a regular monthly outreach to rough sleepers in Newtown. Just last month, seven people were assisted to receive ongoing temporary housing until permanent housing is found.
NNC has also started a community homeless outreach, and 20 volunteers have now been trained in homelessness related issues and are undertaking regular weekly outreach.
Newtown Neighbourhood Centre exists to create a more inclusive, resilient, vibrant and self‐reliant community. It is a not‐for‐profit incorporated association serving Sydney’s inner western suburbs. The Centre works closely with boarding house residents through its Boarding House Outreach Service and offers forums for boarding house owners twice yearly.