Sleeping Rough…

Posted On 23 Jun 2021

Sleeping Rough…

23 Jun 2021
Sleeping Rough...

EST10 Team, News & Events

Sleeping Rough...

Winter was certainly with us in Sydney on the weekend! Sideways rain and the cold…the perfect weather, some might say, to stay inside with a fire on, hot chocolate, coffee, warm food, and snuggle in.

I am a believer in timing, signs, silver lining messages and other meaningful coincidences in life.

Last Thursday night, I was involved in the Vinnies Sleepout on the wharf at White Bay. The experience of the night and the impact of the stories I heard has stayed with me. As disturbing and uncomfortable as they are, I also hope they never leave.

So, for me, the weather over the weekend was a signal and constant reminder to think of how our homeless might be coping.

I am happy to share with you my feelings leading up to the Sleepout. I was reluctant, a little scared, petulant even, and almost regretting my decision. The reality of sleeping outside, in the freezing cold, on cement with strangers, was causing some angst.

As a rule, I am not the person to quit or renege on my responsibilities, so I knew deep down, I would be there, no matter what. But, as I left the office, my last words to the team was, “if I suggest we do this next year, under no circumstances, let me do it. Restrain me if you need to. Record and play this message back to me”.

18 hours later…in the office
Me: “Sign us up for next year, we need to do this again, and maybe we should increase our target?”.

Kaitlin: “It’s amazing what a lack of sleep does to you. That’s delusion talking right there”.

This is why

The feeling from the night and the people I met are imprinted in my brain and soul.

If you are one of those fortunate people who watch a confronting documentary or film, or after reading a great book, the emotions stay with you; it impacts you; this is the same feeling, only magnified by 100.

Many people shared their stories; however, there were two ladies who stood out, and I was lucky enough to talk with them afterwards. One of these lovely ladies, in her 40s, spoke about cardboard being a luxury and not always having access to it. She told of feeling self-conscious of her appearance, the dirt and the shame, making it even harder to approach shops, asking for the cardboard to sleep on. When she spoke about this, there was no blame or anger; it was just a fact and the reality of the situation.

The manner in which she delivered her story was inspiring–she separated the person she was then from the person she is now. There didn’t appear to be anger, just acceptance and no shame or embarrassment. While listening to her story, I felt for her situation, but I didn’t have pity or feel sorry for her.

Instead, we were on the same level discussing a serious topic, exploring the real issue, not a surface conversation. This skill of hers is a rare acquired one, I am sure very few of the CEOs at the Sleepout would have. The profound personal transformation she must have gone through as a result of her experience is inspiring and grounding at the same time.

For all of the stories I heard from the speakers, what occurred to me is they are just like you and I. If it weren’t for their stories, it would be hard to tell they were ever homeless. They were well presented, articulate, intelligent, informed etc. What may set them apart from you and me, though, is their level of gratitude and appreciation. How they spoke about Vinnies, their family, their employers, their life and what they have now was–humbling.

Not to sound like a hippy, but they had a lovely ‘energy’, and I wanted to be around them. I found them funny; we had things in common, and I even felt a little sad when they left.

Is this what it feels like to be around people who are not judging and don’t expect something from you? Or is it about the necessity to strip away the illusions of what we think are our needs and desires? I like to think I am someone who is grateful and grounded, but I now believe there is so much more I can appreciate.

The Other Roxanne

On a lighter note, I’d like to introduce you to the other Roxanne. No word of a lie, Roxanne is a red Staffy, who belongs to Stuart. Stuart is a homeless gentleman who resides on George St, near Dymocks. Her name is Roxanne, not Roxy or Rox–because according to Stuart, everyone’s dog ‘around here’ is called Roxy or Rox. Fair enough!

In our social posts leading up to the Sleepout, I mention that awareness may be as important as the actual fundraising. For this reason, I’m introducing you to Stuart and Roxanne. Whenever I see Stuart, I say hello to both of them, see if they need anything, have a chat and leave some money. So, if you happen to see them, I would so love it if you might like to do the same.

They are warm and friendly, and the simple acknowledgement to be seen and listened to may make a difference to their day. I saw him the day after the Sleepout, and they seemed to be ok. Roxanne (all 30 plus kilos–it is winter after all!) was snuggled up on his lap, with a coat on, sleeping. Bless!

However, on a sombre note, last week, Peter, another gentleman who sleeps rough, passed away in North Sydney. Although I didn’t know him, quite a few of you did.
I have received sad and caring messages from you about Peter. He must have had quite an impact. It’s reassuring to know he touched people’s hearts and consciousness. He seemed respected and cared for, and loved by those working in the area.

We might see the likes of Stuart and Peter… if we cared to look. But, did you know, we are ‘programmed’ to not always ‘see’ the homeless or other negatively perceived groups? Our brain doesn’t register them, and therefore, it stops us from doing something about it. There is some amazing research that explores this further!

Stuart and Peter are the ‘visible homeless’. But, what of the countless others who are hidden? The stories of how people ended up in these situations are extraordinary. For some, they have been hardworking all their lives and then misfortunate hits. But, it can literally happen to any of us.

I am not trying to push an agenda but to bring some awareness and perhaps understanding. I am also all about people helping themselves, but as humans, should we also have some compassion to help others less fortunate or who fall on troubled times? I always thought that this is how we define humanity.

Here are some facts:
The Actual Number

On census night in 2016, more than 116,000 people were estimated to be homeless in Australia—58% were male, 21% were aged 25–34 and 20% identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (ABS 2018). Around 51,000 (44%) were living in severely crowded dwellings. Over 21,000 (18%) were living in supported accommodation for the homeless, and 8,200 (7%) were rough sleepers.

Chart Homeless

Homelessness as a human right issue?

The Australian government recognised homelessness as a human right issue, and in its paper from 2008, noted, ‘people experiencing homelessness face violations of a wide range of human rights‘.

Access to safe and secure housing is one of the most basic human rights. However, homelessness is not just about housing. Fundamentally, homelessness is about a lack of connectedness with family, friends and the community and a lack of control over one’s environment.
Thank you for listening to me on this week’s blog and important issue. And no more haranguing…until this time next year!

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” – Mother Teresa

About the author
Roxanne Calder
Managing Director

As Founder and Managing Director at EST10, Roxanne has an all-encompassing role that includes building and growing the business, as well as actively recruiting and consulting.

After completing a Bachelor’s Degree at Monash University, Roxanne began her recruitment career with renowned recruiter Julia Ross. From there, Roxanne worked in HR and recruitment with a number of global players and boutique businesses throughout Australia, the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong for over 20 years. She has been responsible for managing large teams and projects, implementing RPO models, managing and assisting businesses to an IPO and assisting companies in setting up their recruitment teams and processes.

Following completion of her MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management, Roxanne launched EST10 in July 2010. In doing so, she hoped to combine the flexibility and high touch service levels of boutique agencies with the structure and strategy afforded to larger firms. Roxanne believes in high-touch, high-care consulting and is always on the lookout for consultants that share this vision of recruitment.