The Green Party contingent at the Big Sleep Out 2016
The Green Party contingent at the Big Sleep Out 2016

The Big Sleep Out 2016 – a wrap up from our MPs

On Thursday 7th July, four Green MPs joined many other Kiwis and made a stand against homelessness by taking part in the Big Sleep Out.  The Lifewise Big Sleepout is fundraiser which aims to raise awareness about the growing issue of homelessness in Auckland. It has been running for 7 years and sees over 150 influential Kiwis sleeping it rough for a night to experience what it’s like to be homeless. Jan Logie, Marama Davidson and Denise Roche all share their experience of what it was like to go without their usual comforts.

Jan Logie and Marama Davidson at the Big Sleep Out
Jan Logie and Marama Davidson at the Big Sleep Out

Jan Logie

I’ve slept rough in the past to save money while travelling. It can be tough. I’m hyper aware that making the choice to  sleep rough to raise or save money is entirely different to what it must feel like not to have a choice, to feel as if you’ve no other options, that this is what your life has come to, what society thinks is okay for you. I want everyone in this country to have a warm, dry, secure home. I want those people right now who don’t, to know that I feel that is our failure not theirs.

For the Big Sleep Out, I got wet just getting there and was really grateful for the warm space to hang out before trying to sleep. The thunder and lightening was spectacular and I was again very grateful for a very cosy sleeping bag and an eave to sleep under. I managed to get maybe three or four hours sleep.

I still haven’t reached my fundraising target of $1,500 so would really appreciate any help people can offer to end homelessness.  You can see my fundraiser at http://bigsleepout.org.nz/page/janlogies.  I also did a livestream of my experience which you can find on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MPJanLogie/?fref=ts

Marama Davidson

I recently had the experience of sleeping in a car during the #ParkUp events, so there was no doubt that I would take part in the Big Sleep Out.  The weather was horrible.  The night was thundering and raining and a little cold and windy, but we were relatively better off because we get to go home, and because we had access to toilets and shelter for a rest if we needed it and hot drinks all night. But one thing that really struck me is how anyone who is homeless tries to deal with menstruation as well. Dealing with everything and anything extra while homeless is stressful, and it’s something that we should really think about while we enjoy our comforts.  There is no need for people to sleep rough. It’s awful and I wish we could end it.

So far I have reached $1270 on my Big Sleep Out fundraising page – $230 away from my target.

If you would like to support my fundraiser, you can find it at http://bigsleepout.org.nz/page/spage.

Check out my livestreams at https://www.facebook.com/Marama-Davidson-285255228477617/?fref=ts, where I discuss the harsh realities of being homeless as a woman.

Breakfast at the Big Sleep out
Breakfast at the Big Sleep out

Denise Roche

It was an uncomfortable night trying to sleep on a sheet of cardboard on a concrete balcony in the AUT courtyard last night. I felt my privilege keenly. I have a safe home and a loving and stable family to return to. The thunder and lightening and pouring rain and being exposed to the elements certainly made me think of those people who have to sleep like this every night. It also  reinforced for me the importance of the work that Lifewise does in providing wraparound services to get sleepers into secure housing and less chaotic lives. Earlier in the night we had presentations on the work Lifewise does. We also heard from former rough sleepers – people who had lived experience. Most affecting for me was a young woman and her sister who explained how hard it had been to learn to fend for themselves and the support that was needed to get a job and find a place to live.  More than half the people sleeping rough are under 25. This morning my brain is foggy and I have a better understanding of why homeless people sleep on park benches during the day. They’re tired; it’s warmer and safer to sleep during the day.

I am glad that Lifewise do this work, but really, it is a national shame that we have a crisis of homelessness in this country and we need to act on this urgently. Housing is a basic human right – everyone should have a home.

I managed to raise more than my target of $1,500 and I’m thankful to all donors.  If you’d like to contribute, you can still do so at http://bigsleepout.org.nz/page/deniseroches.

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