Insurance Industry Comes Together For Vinnies CEO Sleepout

On Thursday 18 June more than 1,500 business and community leaders will brave the cold as part of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout – held online for the first time due to COVID-19.

Raising in excess of $60 million over the past 15 years – and well on the way of surpassing the 2020 target of $4 million nationally – the night will give participants an insight into the tough conditions faced by the 116,000 people across Australia currently without a safe and secure place to call home.

This year, Robert Kelly, CEO of insurance broker Steadfast and highest Sydney fundraiser for 2019, will take part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout for the third year in a row. Putting professional rivalry to the side, Robert will spend the night on top of a building in Sydney's CBD with Scott Leney, CEO of Marsh, alongside a group of insurance industry executives participating in the event. In the last two years, Robert raised nearly 120,000, and has already raised nearly $50,000 this year so far. To put this in perspective, last year $140,000 raised from the CEO Sleepout supported the cost of the 620 hot meals which are provided at the Matthew Talbot Hostel each day.

Robert’s connection to Vinnies began as a child after seeing his grandfather, who struggled with alcoholism, spend time at the Matthew Talbot Hostel – one of the many Vinnies’ services providing shelter and care for people who have fallen on hard times.

“He’d be sober for a couple of weeks and then he’d want to go back on the street,” Robert explains.

“Eventually he died on the streets... I felt [the Vinnies CEO Sleepout] was something I could do that could connect me back to him.”

Last year Robert took the opportunity to retrace his grandfather’s steps by spending a night at the Matthew Talbot Hostel, and was blown away by the range of support on offer to Sydney’s most vulnerable.

“When you walk through those doors you are made to feel welcomed and cared for.”

“If you had never been there before – feeling down and out – you would go to bed clean, fresh clothes, medically looked after, knowing that you’re welcome and not being judged.”

Robert also spent time at the neighbouring Ozanam Learning Centre, where members of the community are able to gain a range of life skills, such as cooking classes, along with outlets to express themselves creatively through art and music.

At a time when thousands of people are facing uncertain futures due to COVID-19, Robert is urging everyone to get behind the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, having witnessed first-hand how the funds raised can change lives for the better.

“I think there is a percentage of our population who get into hardship through no cause of their own – they become a victim of circumstance.

“A small amount of money donated by a lot of people around Australia will be directly helpful to people who need a bed for the night, a good feed and some clean clothes.”

The Vinnies CEO Sleepout takes place across Australia on Thursday 18 June. You can live-stream the event from 7.30-9.30pm at www.ceosleepout.org.au

Help Robert raise essential funds for people experiencing homelessness. Donate to Robert’s fundraiser for the Vinnies CEO Sleepout today.