Cold night greets hundreds for Big Sleep Out
Since Lifewise’s Big Sleep Out event on 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.
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.
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.
He said homelessness in New Zealand was at a scale where action should be taken to eradicate the issue.
But Mark Thomas, a doctor at Auckland Hospital’s infectious disease unit was more blunt about the issue.
‘‘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.
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 Gov- ernment, which put up $3.7 million, and Auckland Council which has allocated $1m.
Thomas said the Government needed to take stronger action.
‘‘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.
‘‘It's so distressing that people don't have a place to sleep at night time.’’
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.