Homelessness can happen anywhere. In our community it’s an ongoing issue with 110 people being identified last year in the Gympie region as homeless or living in rough conditions. This figure included children from six months old to seniors at 69 years old, involving 14 families.

A Community Housing spokesperson said that while some forms of homelessness were too obvious to ignore, other housing crisis issues were subtler. “While the stereotype is someone living on the street, sleeping in a park or under a bridge, homelessness presents in many other ways also,” he said. “Many people find themselves relying on the generosity of family and friends for somewhere to sleep and these situations can lead to overcrowding, stress and the breakdown of relationships. Some people are constantly on the move.”

To help alleviate the pain and suffering that these people constantly deal with, residents were urged to sacrifice the comfort of their beds for a sleeping bag and spend the night under the stars to help raise money at the Community Action Sleep-out for Homelessness.

The Manager of Community Housing Action Services, Michelle Hine, said it was important for people to take themselves outside of their comfort zones and experience what it was like to be homeless for a night.

She said the inspiration for the event came from Community Housing’s inability to provide shelter for all people seeking help. They have been forced to turn people away as they have no emergency housing available.

The event has been held in Mary St for the last few years, but this year was moved to the Gympie Showgrounds which she said wasn’t an uncommon place to find people seeking shelter.

Money raised from the Sleep-out will be used to ease immediate needs by providing swags to those without accommodation, and a portion of the funds are put towards the community’s vision of being able to build suitable shelters for those in need.

On Friday night the 5th August, the 2016 Sleep-out was held at the showgrounds with dozens of locals building beds from cardboard boxes and huddling together to keep warm.

The Rapid Relief Team were out in full support preparing and serving the evening meal of sausages and gravy, mashed potato and a variety of boiled vegies, with a tasty caramel tart and cream for dessert to approx. 70 of the local community before they bunked down for the night in their swags on the concrete.

Event organisers were very thankful for RRT and the team received a number of comments on the amazing organisation, wonderful food and excellent service that we provide. The Gympie team was again honoured to be involved in the event helping to positively change many people’s lives in our community. We look forward to seeing you all again next year. Just remember it’s never too late to help out!

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