On Friday night I slept under the stars at Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures as part of the Million Star Executive Sleepout, organised by Coast Shelter. The temperature got down to six degrees, which was warmer than last year, I'm told, and I and the other 51 participants were well looked after by Coast Shelter staff, who provided swags and kept the fires burning. We were also well fed by Chef Julie Goodwin and entertained by Star-FM.
But the same cannot be said for the 1,000 people who are homeless on the Central Coast every night, or the 105,000 people who are homeless across Australia each night. For them, sleeping rough is not an annual event to raise funds but a daily hardship that is not of their choosing or of their making. They include young people like Elijah, who spoke at the sleepout. With the support of Coast Shelter, he is now a writer and working with Musicians Making a Difference. About 800 men, women and children are helped each year by Coast Shelter to find emergency accommodation, but four times that many are turned away.
Coast Shelter receives government funding to help provide housing but no funding for its Community Centre, which provides nearly 50,000 meals a year to people who are homeless as well as services such as showers, laundry, food hampers, legal advice and help with energy bills and filling prescriptions. Without community support, Coast Shelter would be unable to provide these services. I am pleased to have taken part in the Million Star Executive Sleepout, which raised $57,000 this year to support Coast Shelter and to help the homeless.