Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Vinnies goes virtual

- //­munity-sleepout-deniliquin-2021. — Chelsea Phipps

The Vinnies Community Sleepout in Deniliquin has switched to a virtual event.

The sleepout which was scheduled to take place in Cressy Street next Friday August 27 was cancelled due to current lockdown.

The event will now go ahead with participan­ts nominating to sleep out at home in their cars, couches or backyards while connecting virtually on the night.

All funds raised locally will still remain in the community to assist Vinnies St. Michael’s Conference in Deniliquin, which supports people experienci­ng hardship with food, financial aid and clothing.

Despite the change, local businesses and community members are still keen to take part in the sleepout.

And Nutrien Ag real estate agent Jake Freshwater is one of the participan­ts taking up the challenge.

Mr Freshwater recently returned to Deniliquin from Melbourne, where homelessne­ss is a much more visible issue.

But he said he’s fully aware that the invisible nature of regional homelessne­ss can cause people to not realise its seriousnes­s.

‘‘In Melbourne, you constantly walk past people stuck on the street,’’ he said.

‘‘If it’s not seen it can be easy to forget. ‘‘I saw the event promoted, and it got me thinking about other people who are not as fortunate (as I am).

‘‘We take it for granted, having a house to go to, especially in these cold winters.

‘‘So getting involved was a no brainer for me.

‘‘One night sleeping rough to raise money for others, so they can have nights off the street, is worth it to me.’’

Mr Freshwater will be part of the Nutrien Ag sleepout team, which also includes Matt Tubb and Jamie Beer. The pair are encouragin­g other staff members to join them.

Mr Freshwater has set himself a goal to raise $1000, and so far has $600. The broader Nutrien Ag team goal is $3000.

His sleeping material of choice will be a cardboard box on his back verandah — a refrigerat­or box to accommodat­e his height, thanks to Betta Electrical.

‘‘I might set up the box on the decking, so the dog will have a friend for the night,’’ he said.

Vinnies is also echoing the awareness of homelessne­ss in our community.

‘‘Homelessne­ss is often perceived to be a metropolit­an problem,’’ Vinnies spokespers­on Tamara Sefton said.

‘‘In actual fact, a significan­t proportion of people experienci­ng homelessne­ss are in regional, rural and remote Australia.

‘‘The risk of homelessne­ss in rural and remote areas is extremely high due to a greater likelihood of low incomes, high living costs and poor housing options relative to regional and metropolit­an centres.’’

You can sign up or donate by visiting

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 ??  ?? Participan­t Jake Freshwater tests out his sleeping arrangemen­ts for the Sleepout, with dog by his side.
Participan­t Jake Freshwater tests out his sleeping arrangemen­ts for the Sleepout, with dog by his side.

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