Helping put an end to youth homelessness – Sleep at the G 2019
As the sun goes down and the mist slowly rolls in over the pitch there is humble sense of achievement drifting through the concrete concourse of our iconic MCG. While in the background there is a slight buzzing noise resonating from the heat lamps, over the hallowed turf, the silence is deafening only broken by intermittent snoring, far from the usual chanting of the crowds.
It’s Melbourne City Mission’s (MCM) annual Sleep At The G event. Yes, it’s cold, yes it’s uncomfortable, and yes it’s a sleepless night, well for some of us, but this is a harsh reality for over 6000 kids every night here on our streets in Melbourne, how is this possible in one of the world’s most liveable Cities?
And so the long night begins…
On Thursday 16th May 2019, 10 of our own incredible storage experts together with 1938 other Melbournians, gave up the comforts of their beds and braved the cold in a quest to raise awareness and help put an end to youth homelessness. While the thought of sleeping at the G isn’t for anyone, I am amazed and humbled at the generosity of our friends, family and supporters whom helped our team raise $12,829.31. Our team worked tirelessly in building an arch and personally welcoming and handing out the 2250 “beds” (Fort Knox Big Boxes) to all sleepers on the night.
And while the temperature plummeted and the cold night air set in the spirits of the sleepers soared as the fund-raising dollars rose with the event raising $1,191,252.00 for the disadvantaged youth homeless.
And while the night gives us a slight insight into the life of the homeless it wasn’t until I got home and stood under the hot water of my shower that it hit me. The homeless don’t have the privilege of a hot shower, a warm bed, hot coffee nor a substantial meal, the things we take for granted each day. My heart sunk at the reality, and I was saddened to think this is happening in our community. Listening to some of the youth homeless tell their story has really changed the way I see them. For these kids they feel almost invisible on our streets. Most of our community turn a blind eye and wont even look at them, one young man told us how this behaviour made him feel inhuman and less respected than a dog. Hearing this made me cry.
Fort Knox Self Storage’s moral obligation
As a family owned and operated business, we find that our cores values echo those at MCM. We believe we have a moral obligation to engage in our local communities and to support those individuals whom in return support our business. There is an old saying; “It takes a village to raise a child” and we endeavour to support our local villages in raising their children just as we nurture our own.
Since its fruition 7 years ago, our team at Fort Knox Self Storage has proudly supported MCM Sleep at the G and their quest to help put youth homelessness to bed. MCM do a fabulous job helping hundreds homeless people a week, however despite their tremendous efforts there are 1000’s that fall through the gap. In a city and country as rich as ours no young person should be forced to sleep in unsafe housing, couch surfing or worse, on the streets. Not only is this physically unsafe but mentally tragic for these youngsters, and the long-term physiological effects stay with them for life.
- – To date we have donated over 11,000 Fort Knox big boxes (tea chest cartons) which are used as beds for all sleepers.
- – 39 of our storage experts have braved the cold by sleeping on our Fort Knox Big Box on freezing harsh concrete of the MCG. And while once is enough for some, we have had a few team members return 6 years running and find the experience very rewarding. The event has increased team morale and comeradery.
- – Our wider team has personally hosted numerous fund-raising events, including soup kitchens, afternoon teas, cinema nights, Zumba classes and raised in excess of $53,000.00 for the homeless.
- – We have built numerous shelters, a house and this year we constructed a large arch as a way of promoting the cause and providing a background for sleepers to post photos for social media in a quest to increase donations.
And while homelessness remains a huge social issue, “there is light at the end of the tunnel” thanks to MCM and the truly amazing services they provide through Front Yard. We and I recently had the honour and privilege to visit MCM newly built 18 bed youth crisis accommodation centre, offering private rooms equipped with an en-suite for youth aged between 16-24 years. The project started 3 years ago with a vision and a government grant. What followed was 18 months of challenges, planning restrictions, numerous structural issues and inabilities to see this dream become fruition. However, with the support from local government, some amazing community groups, builders, designers and an enormous list of supporters it has finally officially opened. Without fund-raising campaigns such as Sleep At The G, this wouldn’t have been possible.
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