Peter Williamson is preparing to pull on some gloves, don a beanie and roll out the sleeping bag – all in the name of helping those doing it tough.
Mr Williamson, a director at Wollongong’s Acorn Lawyers, is one of many business leaders set to take part in this year’s Vinnies CEO Sleepout.
The annual event, which is now in its sixth year in Wollongong, raises funds to help homeless people across the Illawarra.
There are about 1000 homeless people in the region on any given night.
“It [homelessness] is something we see all the time, we see everyday on the street,” Mr Williamson said.
“I get approached from time to time on the street, especially down near the family court, which I attend practically daily.”
Mr Williamson’s motivation to step outside his comfort zone – and the comfort of his own bed – stems from a desire to help others.
“I get slightly embarrassed that I’m doing well and I’m able to provide for my family and other people can’t,” he said.
“I take the view that some people do not have the ability to properly care for themselves and that they do need assistance; and this is where Vinnies, and organisations like Vinnies, become so important.”
This is the first time Mr Williamson has participated in the event and he said he was eager to be part of the CEO Sleepout experience.
“I’m looking forward to it. No one likes a sleepout, I don’t think, but we’ll get that done and we hope we get a good result,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity [to help] and if we can all do it in a small way, it’s like saving isn’t it; you make a small contribution and you’re going to get the bigger result in the long term.”
Gay Mason, from Vinnies, said last year’s Sleepout saw 32 CEOs raise $153,000.
Ms Mason said the money was used to operate a “Vinnies Van”, which travels to five locations in Wollongong, Warrawong and Nowra.
“The van … provides meals, personal hygiene packs, toiletries, food packs, blankets and swags for up to 50 people on any one night,” she said.
The van helped 12,430 people in the Illawarra during the 2015-16 financial year, including 1100 children, and served 13,620 meals.
The 2017 Wollongong CEO Sleepout will be launched on April 7, with the event to be held on June 22.
- For more information, visit ceosleepout.org.au