The annual Sleep at the G event was hosted at the MCG on Thursday night to raise funds and awareness for youth homelessness in Melbourne.
The event was run by Melbourne City Mission which is a non-for-profit organisation in Melbourne that works to help the most vulnerable disadvantaged people of the city.
Over 1,000 participants braved the cold, grabbed a cardboard box to sleep on and donned a Sleep at the G beanie in support of the cause as the temperature dropped to just eight degrees overnight.
The fundraising efforts of the participants has so far reached an incredible $457,919, and donations are still being taken until July 1.
As the sun set, the crowd saw performances from Pat Coyle and The Postmen, DJ Fuzzy Logic and youth advocate Edward who performed a rap about his experiences of youth homelessness.
Spending the night at Melbourne’s most iconic sports stadiums, the participants lived like the homeless.
Fort Knox storage cardboard boxes were handed out as mattresses, the lights remained on all night, the cold was not remedied by a heater and they were served soup and a bread roll for dinner as Melbourne City Mission attempted to recreate homelessness.
Operations Manager for the event, Rob Hosking was incredibly pleased with the turnout and fundraising efforts of Sleep at the G participants.
“So far, we have raised over $400,000 which is incredible. That money will be used to get people off the streets and into crisis accommodation or long term accommodation. All of the funds we are raising will be used for direct line services which will help them get out of the situation they are in,” he said.
Australians recognising the intensity of the homelessness issue has been vital over the last few years.
“There are about 7,000 homeless people in Victoria every night and on any given night, Melbourne City Mission can help up to 5,000 of those. Everyone is here tonight to raise money for this issue to help people directly get out of homelessness,” Rob said.
Founder of Sleep at the G team ‘Mouse’s Enterprize’, Lauren Kelly has been participating in this event for the last four years.
“I had no idea of the homelessness problem we have in Australia. I only found out about the issue because a homeless man known as Mouse was murdered in Melbourne. Hearing his story from his family brought me a lot of awareness about homelessness,” she said.
“It has really got to me how we can all live in this city and have so many homeless people and not even be aware of how big the problem is,” she added.
Lauren and her team, ‘Mouse’s Enterprize’ have raised $8,400 since they started participating in Sleep at the G, raising $2,600 this year alone.
Rob recognises that people often don’t understand the causes of youth homelessness and urges the public to stop victim blaming them. “Homelessness is usually derived from a combination of many things happening in a persons life such as family breakdown, addiction or being born into poverty and disadvantage,” he said.
The participants in the event are doing all they can to ensure youth homelessness can come to an end as they slept on the cold, hard floor for the night.
“We are passionate about homelessness not being an identity and really showing people that it can happen to anyone and if things spiral out of control all at once, you can very easily find yourself in a situation of homelessness,” Rob said.
Donations are still being taken for this important cause, if you would like to donate head to the Sleep at the G website.
To find out more about Melbourne City Mission and the incredible work they do, click here.