About 1,100 CEOs took part in the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout to raise funds for the provision of Vinnies’ homeless services across the country.
In Sydney alone there were about 250 CEOs taking part. The Sleepout took place at the Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh. This was formerly part of the Eveleigh Rail Yards and is now a heritage-listed site.
Although, the area where the CEOs were due to spend the night was under cover, it was exposed to the elements on one side. It was a cold night by Sydney standards with a temperature predicted to drop to about 7 degrees Celsius.
Those taking part were given some cardboard which they could use to sleep on and construct some form of shelter. Sleeping bags could be used, but no form of mattress was permitted. Dinner consisted of soup and a roll from what resembled a homeless soup kitchen.
The main purposes of the event was of course to raise money for the St Vincent de Paul Society charity, more commonly known as ‘Vinnies’ and also raise awareness of homeless issues.
On the website for the event the CEOs had been sorted in order of who had raised the most money with Ian Nadev, the MD and CEO of Commonwealth Bank Australia in the lead with a staggering $166,458 and Gail Kelly, CEO of Westpac Bank in second position with an almost as staggering $122,720 raised so far. It seemed that the bankers were the best at making money for Vinnies.
Penelope Montague-Curry, CEO of Harlequin School Bags had decided to decorate her cardboard shelter with some marker pens she had to make it look like a house.
Franz Donhauser, General Manager of the luxurious Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, which even has a ‘pillow menu’, told Digital Journal that he had brought his ski suit, but it was too warm. The irony of the situation was not lost on him as he commented, “we are selling luxury rooms in hotels”. Franz has currently raised $11,000 for Vinnies.
Roy Wakelin-King, CEO of the Australian Technology Park Sydney Ltd, who was taking part for the first time had only registered the day before after his staff told him about the fundraising event, so he thought he should do the right thing and take part.
He described his dinner as “Soup and a bread roll – that’s about it”.
He told Digital Journal that he had his thermo rest inflating mattress packed in the car, but then he read the fine print and ended up having to make do with a piece of cardboard instead.
After a posing for a group photo the CEOs took their seats and were given various presentations, including from those who have had first hand experience of homelessness, who told their stories and in one case sang a song.
There was a sense of camaraderie amongst the CEOs as they endured an uncomfortable, cold night for a good cause.
Those wishing to donate to the charity can do so here.