The Hills Winter Sleepout took place overnight on Saturday 18th August 2018. About 120 people including school students through to CEO braved the chilly night either in the large shed at Bella Vista Farm or out under the stars. I chose out under the stars. Those who chose to sleep inside had to pay a premium with their registration.
On arrival we were given a cardboard box, supplied by Hills Self Storage. In my swag I bought along a blanket, sleeping bag and an extra jacket to give me three layers overall.
Shortly after arrival I had a good chat to an old friend, Costa Demos, now EO of Hills Community Aid. Costa described how the Hills Homeless Prevention Initiative was achieving interventions such as allowing those finding it difficult to rent a home, with bond and startup rent assistance, while they waited for Centrelink payments to kick in.
Later on we all gathered in the barn to hear of the story of Dave who is a vendor of the The Big Issue. Dave shared how he has been selling The Big Issue in Parramatta since 1996, and now can pay rent and electricity. As you can read on his profile, Dave still has his rucksack and swag to remind him of where he came from.
With the night getting on, a cup of tea was had thanks to Hill Daily Grind. It was just what was needed to warm up the insides with the night starting to really cool down.
At about midnight it was time to bed down. Getting warm was not too hard. Getting comfortable was another challenge, but hat’s what we were all to experience. Sleeping rough for a night is one thing. Doing it night after night is unthinkable in my mind.
One thing sleeping out has you understand is that the weather constantly changes during the night. Although the night started calm, after the blustery winds settled, the breeze again kicked up about 1pm and made sleeping hard with the chilly breeze on your face. As much as I tried, it was hard to cover all my face to allow much sleep. Somewhere between 3am and 6:00am I got a few hours, but nothing much to feel like I had slept at all.
With most people wanting to rise and get moving, it was pretty busy at 6:00am. Hills Daily Grind fired up the kettle early and Norwest Sunrise Rotary has the BBQ on early for bacon an egg rolls. Luckily we all had some change to purchase our food. I am aware thought that those sleeping really rough may not have such and rely on organisations like Hills Community Aid.
Thank you to all who supported me by donating to Hills Community Aid. My personal donation tally is $3,105, being third overall.
A great thanks to good friends Clr Dr Michelle Byrne (Hills Shire Mayor), Clr Bill Tyrrell (City of Parramatta Council) and all those involved in the organisation of the Hills Winter Sleepout 2018.
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