Cold night greets hun­dreds for Big Sleep Out

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - ANUJA NADKARNI

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.’’

CHRIS SKEL­TON/STUFF

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.

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