Carolyn’s Diary from the Vinnies CEO Sleepout

“I was intrigued, proud and a little bit nervous to accept the invitation to sleep rough for a night as part of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. Leading up to the night, when the weather forecast was showing a 95% change of rain, I was getting quite anxious. I packed plenty of layers (which was all I was allowed after a sleeping bag and pillow) and drove to the event. The rain was so heavy on the way that some roads were flooded and I couldn’t help but think about the 105,000 Australians who experience this every night.

“I felt very lucky that my friend Nic was also participating in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout – he had heard an inside whisper from some seasoned Sleepout participants that if we went near a concrete barrier we would have extra protection from the wind. He also was able to secure us two pieces of cardboard so we could sleep on one and put one over our heads.

“The night began with an interview with Sky News as well as a photo shoot for the Herald Sun, before we were served dinner from the local soup van. I had some seriously yummy Thai pumpkin soup from the beautiful soup van volunteers, Clare and Emma, and then headed inside to hear some incredible stories from real homeless people about their life experiences and how much Vinnies had helped them get back on track. There was not a dry eye in the house!

“It was then ‘lights out’ at 10:30pm. The rain had stopped and Nic and I chatted sitting on our sleeping bags watching the amazing city lights and talking in depth about what this would be like in real life. Afterwards, I bunkered down in my sleeping bag, put on my warmest beanie and had a reasonable night’s sleep, all things considered.

“I woke in the morning to find the magnificent Carman’s team who had set up from 5:00am to serve all the CEO Sleepout participants, staff and volunteers breakfast. I was so thrilled to see them and they did such a beautiful job.

“All in all, the Vinnies CEO Sleepout was an incredible life experience. It exposed me to a whole range of amazing people from the homeless who are just looking for a break, to the wonderful volunteers from Vinnies to the protestors who were fascinating in their own right. I am richer for experience, which will stay with me always.”

There is still time to donate to the Vinnies CEO Sleepout – simply head to the website here. Your generous donations will go towards homelessness support services, including HomeDirect – a joint program between Vinnies and VincentCare Victoria.

To see more about what happened at the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, watch the videos here and here.

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