Virtual Sleepout Will Support Tweed Homeless

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Hosted for the past three years by Seagulls Club, the community sleepout for Vinnies homeless service Fred’s Place will be a live-streamed ‘virtual’ event this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Tweed Heads residents will join communities throughout the state in a series of linked-up NSW Vinnies Community Sleepouts on Friday 23 October. Supporters in regional NSW will bed down in their cars, backyards and couches to simulate the homeless experience and raise funds to support people experiencing homelessness.

Julie West, principal at The MBA Partnership, Alicia and Craig McNiven from hygiene company Ecomist, with son Kobi, Fred’s Place staff members Megan Claeys, Alysia Hopkins and David Holmes, and volunteer Paul Varley planning for the sleepout at Vinnies Fred’s Place homeless service.

“Previous sleepouts were a great success, and we greatly appreciate the support of Seagulls,” said Fred’s Place manager, Alysia Hopkins.

The ABS survey of 2016 found around 450 people were homeless in Tweed Shire, half of them ‘primary homeless’, meaning sleeping rough. The numbers have increased since then.

State MP for Tweed, Geoff Provest knows the extent of homelessness in the area and is a strong supporter of Fred’s Place community sleepout.

“COVID-19 has placed extra pressure on those who rely on Fred’s Place, and in turn greater demands on our services. So it’s more important than ever for us to maximise our fundraising.

“The virtual sleepout is a new way of doing things, and we hope to attract a lot of supporters who might not have been able to actually take a night off to sleep out.”

Fred’s Place manager, Alysia Hopkins

The Tweed Heads event and 11 others around NSW will feature livestreams from participants sharing their experience. They follow the success of the virtual CEO Sleepout in June, which raised over $5.7 million to support Vinnies homelessness services.

Funds raised locally will be directed to Fred’s Place, which assists people experiencing hardship with food, medical assistance, bathroom and laundry facilities, free computer and phone access, housing support and referrals to essential services.

Volunteer Paul Varley, who helps make up to 80 breakfasts each morning, with food donated by OzHarvest for distribution to Fred’s Place visitors.

Vinnies NSW CEO Jack de Groot is urging regional communities to unite in a show of solidarity with locals experiencing or at risk of homelessness: “Between drought, bushfires and COVID-19 there are a lot of people unsure of when the tide will turn,” Mr de Groot said.

“We know around 40 per cent of people sleeping rough in NSW live outside major cities, while people with children are seeking specialist homelessness support at higher rates in regional and rural areas. With the funds raised from the NSW Vinnies Community Sleepout we’ll be able to continue assisting people doing it tough at a time when they need it most.”

Register to join the first ever virtual NSW Vinnies Community Sleepout today!