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Community leaders sleeping rough to tackle homelessness

June 19th 2012

Announcing the business and community leaders sleeping rough on June 28 to tackle homelessness

A group of business and community leaders are once again preparing to swap their creature comforts for cold concrete and cardboard to ‘sleep rough’ for one night to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness in Auckland and raise critical funds to help Lifewise’s on-going work tackling homelessness and housing homeless people.

John McCarthy, general manager of Lifewise, says “As in previous years, we’re inspired by all those who have taken up this challenge. They are an amazing group of individuals committed to improving the social well-being of this city and in particular how this city responds to the needs of those who are homeless. The funds raised quite literally help to keep the doors of Lifewise’s homeless support service open. Since the first event less than two years ago 78 people have been housed, thanks to those prepared to sleep rough for a night and those who donate so generously to them.”

“We know from past years that the event has a significant impact on everyone taking part; it’s more than just the fact that they spend a night outside, it’s hearing from people who have lived on the streets about their personal stories – this makes a mark on people. It takes courage for those we’ve helped to stand up and speak to such a group of people.”

The issue of people sleeping on the streets in our city is still not yet solved, though progress is being made. Lifewise, along with other Government, Council and community agencies now work towards ending homelessness not simply managing the problem as they tended to do in the past. As a result we have seen the development of a number of innovations which are beginning to ensure long-term homelessness becomes a thing of the past in Auckland.

Sixty-three people have signed up so far for the 2012 event; a mix of new participants as well as those who are returning for their second and even third Lifewise Big Sleepout.

Once again AUT University is generously hosting the event on its city campus and for the second year in a row, Vice Chancellor Derek McCormack is leading a group of senior staff taking up the challenge to sleep rough. The group includes Dr Geoff Perry (Dean) and Sarah Trotman both from AUT’s Business School as well as entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony Falkenstein, a member of the Business School’s Advisory Board. They will be joined by Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, other local and national politicians as well as a diverse array of business leaders.

"As a result of homeless people sleeping on AUT's city campus in the past, AUT began working with Lifewise to develop a response to homelessness. The priority for the staff at AUT was to see solutions for those who had nowhere to call home. AUT staff are deeply committed to the social fabric of our city and as a result have had a long association with Lifewise." says Sarah Trotman, Director of Business Relations at AUT's Business School, who is about to embark on her third Big Sleepout and encourages all business and community leaders to support the event either as a participant or a sponsor.

John McCarthy notes that “AUT does far more than simply hosting the event, they get right behind it. This event is just one aspect of a very diverse and close association between our two organisations over many years. Finding solutions to social issues such as homelessness is a shared responsibility; involving government, business and ‘the charitable’ sector working together in the way that AUT University worked with us. From research to student and staff engagement and so much more, my team applauds the openness of AUT University to assist us in our goals.”

Click here for the full list of participants.

Background - The 2012 Lifewise Big Sleepout
When: Thursday June 28 to Friday June 29 (6.00pm to 7.30am)
Where: Hikuwai Plaza on AUT University’s city campus (an open-air plaza with some shelter)
What happens: Auckland business and community leaders raise sponsorship to spend one night ‘sleeping rough’ and experience a little of what it is like to be homeless. The money raised will provide services for the homeless in Auckland.
Website: www.bigsleepout.org.nz
Twitter: @bigsleepout and our official tag is #LWBSO

Background – Lifewise
Lifewise is an Auckland based not-for-profit social service and development organisation committed to making New Zealand a stronger, healthier, more just society for future generations of New Zealanders. Lifewise focuses on solutions to a wide range of social issues affecting New Zealanders today, delivering community based services and programmes which assist people to have a better future.
Websites: www.lifewise.org.nz
Twitter @lifewisenz


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