Community Compassion in Cowra

There is a common misconception that rough sleeping and homelessness only occurs in our major cities, but that’s simply not the case. According to the NSW Government’s latest Homelessness Strategy, as many as 40% of people sleeping rough reside outside the city.

With more than 37,000 people in NSW going to bed each night without a safe and secure place to sleep, regional and rural communities across the state have experienced growing calls for assistance from people who have fallen on hard times.

On Thursday 18 June, over a thousand business and community leaders across Australia will take part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. While many participants will sleep out in metropolitan areas, a dedicated group of locals in Cowra will be using the event to shine a light on homelessness and disadvantage occurring in their own backyard.

“People tend to think of homelessness as being on the streets and in the cities,” explains Jordan Core, President of the Cowra Business Chamber. “It’s definitely not the case and that’s what we’re trying to raise awareness of by taking part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout.”

Located three-and-a half hours from Sydney, the Central West town of Cowra is home to 10,000 residents and 300 businesses reeling from the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the slowdown of trade some businesses have had to completely stop and other smaller businesses forced to close entirely.”

“It’s affected the community as a whole, but we’re also seeing a strong sense of support with people shopping locally to support local cafés, pubs and clubs.”

With restrictions beginning to ease and locals finding their way back, Jordan and members of the Cowra Business Chamber have signed up to take part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout for the first time.

The Cowra Business Chamber at the 2020 Cowra Business Awards

Participants ranging from local real estate agents, veterinarians, council members, flight instructors, cabinet makers, bank managers and milling operators will sleep out at Sid Kallas Oval on the night.

“We’re a town of 10,000 people – we know each other, we know where everyone lives and works – so I was quite surprised to find that we do have a homeless issue here in Cowra.”

The town is coming together to support the event, with the Cowra Information & Neighbourhood Centre operating a soup kitchen on the night, the PCYC lending their large screen to stream the live broadcast, and in the morning the local Rotary members will cook breakfast.

“It’s a joint effort for a really great cause, and a great time to do it coming out of COVID-19.”

With the temperature set to fall below zero next Thursday evening, Jordan is bracing for a cold night in Cowra – but one that promises to make a big difference to the lives of people doing it tough.

In the past year Vinnies has provided $50,000 to over 270 people through our St. Raphael’s Conference in Cowra. Donate to Vinnies CEO Sleepout Cowra fundraiser today.