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Sleeping rough for a good cause

28 June 2021

Earlier this month, Michael Negri – our Executive Managing Director Building Products – braved the winter chill to participate in the CEO Sleepout, raising funds and drawing attention to the issue of homelessness.

Michael shared his views in a recent LinkedIn article post, shared prior to his participation in the event. An edited version of his post, with some images from the night is published below.

Every night, 116,000 Australians are sleeping outside, sleeping rough. They’re homeless.

In NSW alone, there’s roughly 28,000 people who spend every night on the streets. That’s equivalent to the population of Lismore.

For a modern country likes ours, one that prides itself on helping others and people in need I think it’s both shameful and sad. We can do more about the issue and it’s the driving reason for my involvement in this year’s Vinnies CEO Sleepout. The event involves more than 1,600 senior executives across Australia who are doing their bit to raise funds and draw attention to the issue of homelessness in our own backyard.

What has struck me, after a number of years of wanting to get involved in this initiative and then seeing the mental health impacts related to COVID-19 on groups of people during the past 15 months, is the realisation that this problem is more complex than looking at someone’s earning capacity.

As individuals, at some point, we all have dreams and aspirations. Unfortunately, for some, life events can knock people off-course to the point that they find themselves in need of a helping hand. And, as I’ve seen in my life journey, this can happen to people irrespective of job title, educational qualifications or the postcode they live in.

It’s why I’m looking forward to spending a night at White Bay Cruise terminal. There I’ll meet some of Sydney’s homeless and learn first-hand about their experience. I’m also looking forward to talking with other like-minded senior executives who are supporting the cause.

Our collective night of discomfort and inconvenience is a small gesture really, when you consider the cumulative effect that sleeping night after night exposed to the elements has on a person’s health and wellbeing, but if it goes someway to bringing about change then I’m all for it.

So far, as a group, we’ve raised more than $9 million. I’m proud to have raised just over $8,100 personally – and I thank my family, friends and professional network for their generous donations. These funds will help Vinnies provide food, accommodation and essential services to people at risk and experiencing homelessness. Which is vital when you think about how the move towards digitisation and contactless payment methods over the past year has meant less spare change in people’s pockets to leave with someone on the street looking to scrape together enough money to buy a hot meal, let alone worthy charities’ collection tins.

But most importantly, my hope is that by participating in this event and talking about it, as a group we can highlight this issue to a wider network of individuals and groups.

Because until we all start to recognise homelessness as unacceptable, in our privileged country, we won’t get meaningful change.

If you would like to make a meaningful contribution to a great cause, you can make a tax deductible donation via my CEO Sleepout online donation page.

You can also connect with Michael on LinkedIn

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