Every night, 10 000 West Australians are homeless. People living on the street are denied the right to safe living conditions, subjected to insecurity, and violence, experiencing feelings of disconnectedness, and worthlessness. Much as homelessness is unanimously condemned as a societal injustice, little opportunity is provided to learn more about its predictors, and how we can make a difference.
So instead of turning to stats, the St. Thomas More Parish engaged in a Vinnie’s Winter Sleep Out, having a small dinner of soup, watching a documentary on homelessness and hearing about how we can make a difference in our own community before sleeping on cardboard out in the open air. Mirroring the CEO Winter Sleep Out run by St. Vincent de Paul, this was not simply another fundraiser but an opportunity to grow in understanding for those who go without by experiencing what they do for a night. The Oasis documentary provided a stark exploration of young people who lived on the streets in Central Sydney, allowing us to learn from the experts as, in the words of G. K. Chesterton “By experts in poverty, I don’t mean sociologists, I mean poor men.” After a Vinnies presentation by Belinda Norris we hit the cardboard out in the freezing air. The seemingly endless cold hours, and a red eyed shift at work the next day was a reminder of how the impact of homelessness is not reduced to a nightly experience, but affects all aspects of an individual’s life, preventing them from getting ahead.
Thank you to Fr. Geronimo and Fr. Phillip for your support, and to all those who came. May we be more present, more empathetic, and less judgemental to all we meet irrespective of circumstance, and offer ourselves in service, as Christ calls us to.