More than $300k fundraised for the homeless

Anuja Nadkarni

2017 Big sleep out.

Since Lifewise's Big Sleep Out event last Thursday, the charity has raised $7000, hitting just over $302,000 in donations for the homeless.

Hundreds of business, political and community leaders swapped their beds for cardboard mattresses and roughed it out in the thunder and cold.

Last year the event raised $300,000 and this year it hoped to reach $350,000.


La Morzocco general manager Tom Handiside convinced five of his peers in the coffee industry to join him and sleep on the cold wet concrete of Auckland University of Technology's city campus. 

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Although Handiside spent most of his night awake at the campus cafe, he thought the event was successful as it gave those who took part a clearer understanding of the complexities of the issue and a glimpse into the lives of the homeless.

The coffee industry was represented at the sleep out by (from left) Tom Handiside, Henry Rylev, Jessica Godfrey, James ...

The coffee industry was represented at the sleep out by (from left) Tom Handiside, Henry Rylev, Jessica Godfrey, James Nightingale, Al Keating and Olivia Coot.

"When I woke up with my things around me, I imagined what it must be like having to carry all your possessions around with you if you want to use a toilet or get a meal. We take a lot of daily rituals for granted," Handiside said.

Handiside and his group raised almost $15,000 so far.

Over 41,000 people in New Zealand have no place to call home and the majority of those are youth under 25.


For Vodafone Foundation's human resources director Antony Welton it was his third sleep out.

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He said homelessness in New Zealand was at a scale where action should be taken to eradicate the issue.

Vodafone staff have raised about $10,500 before the event and the company will doublei that with its own contribution.

This is the eighth year for the event.

This is the eighth year for the event.

Microsoft NZ managing director Barrie Sheers said after returning to New Zealand after 30 years he was shocked to see the rise in homelessness.

"The night was a humbling experience. But it was a choice for me, a one-off night of discomfort, but enough to give me just a tiny glimpse into how hard, and how devastating, it would be to be homeless," Sheers said.

"For thousands of Kiwis it is not a choice. It is a shocking reality that demands a compassionate response."

But Mark Thomas, a doctor at Auckland Hospital's infectious disease unit was more blunt about the issue. He said the fundraising event would only raise enough to afford half a house. 

"That's not going to fix the problem. It needs much more than ordinary small-time people and small time NGOs to fix," Thomas said.  

About a quarter of homeless people are children. 

Auckland mayor Phil Goff also took part in the sleep out for his second year in a row.

He said that it was concerning homelessness was still an issue in the 21st century and that, particularly in Auckland, it was rising because of the increasing shortage of housing.

Goff said the council's Housing First programme pilot planned to house 400 people over the next three years was a start to address the housing issue.

Funds for the House First programme are coming from the Government, which put up $3.7 million, and Auckland Council which has allocated $1m.

Thomas said the Government needed to take stronger action for the cause by providing social housing to combat the homelessness crisis.

"It's so distressing that people don't have a place to sleep at night time. Much bigger organisations than Lifewise need to tackle this problem," Thomas said.

 - Stuff


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