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The most satisfying part of working in the finance industry is knowing you've played an important role in clients achieving their "Great Australian Dream" of home ownership and creating security for themselves and their families.

Yet thousands of Australians will go without food and shelter tonight.

In fact more than 105,000 Australians are homeless, many of whom are women and children escaping domestic violence.

I count my blessings that I was bought up in a loving family with enough food, a good education and a warm, safe place to live and want to help others who have fallen through the cracks and desperately need help - which is why I signed up for the Vinnies CEO Sleepout 2015.

So on Thursday 18 June, along with over 200 other CEOs, I swapped by usual steak meal for a small bowl of soup and my warm bed for a sleeping bag on the cold concrete of the Melbourne Exhibition Centre's windy concourse. The actual event was a fantastic experience. It was great to meet people from Vinnie’s who do an amazing job helping people in dire need of assistance. These guys are an inspiration.

Here’s how the night went...

After some initial mingling, we were moved into an auditorium where we listened to the stories of three people who found themselves homeless, went through the system and have come out the other end. Each of them ended up homeless for different reasons – mental breakdown, abusive family situation, bad luck. Their accounts of the way the system “helped” them was astonishing. Clearly, the system is broken, with the solution often worse than the problem. The government clearly needs to lift its game on this front. When you hear these stories, you gain some understanding of the fortunate hand you’ve been dealt and how a little help goes a long way. They don’t necessarily want charity, just a chance.

Following the formalities and some promo photos, it was outside and off to bed (but not necessarily sleep!) The forecast minimum for the night was 5 degrees and unfortunately for once the forecasters were right – it was freezing. Sleeping on concrete with only a bit of cardboard wasn’t much fun either. I had 3 t-Shirts, 2 jumpers and a jacket on and yet was still freezing in my sleeping bag, and trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in was nearly impossible. At around 2.30am tiredness prevailed and I drifted off to sleep for a few hours. Apart from the elements, what really strikes you is how vulnerable you are – to the elements and also (and mainly) to other people.

My fundraising goal was $5,460 which could support one person with a bed and warm meals through the six coldest months of the year, and with the help of our generous clients and friends - I'm proud to say we got there!

If you’re reading this and you think it might be a good challenge for you and/or your business, I’ll see you out there next year!

James


OUR "WHY" VIDEO

WHY ARE WE SO PASSIONATE ABOUT HELPING PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS? PLEASE WATCH THIS...

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