When you can’t afford to pay your rent, do you risk falling deeper into debt, or do you face sleeping on the street? When you can’t afford to pay your energy bill, do you and your family decide to freeze in a cold home or to go hungry?
Most of us, myself included, have never had to ask ourselves these questions. But, especially for older Australians, winter can bring up more than just tough decisions.
“Every day in Australia, someone faces impossible choices like these. They need help from you and I to get through the winter,” said Warwick Fulton, a regional President of the St Vincent de Paul Society at a recent launch for the Vinnies Winter Appeal.
The Vinnies Winter Appeal is one of three appeals the St Vincent de Paul Society coordinates each year. The Appeal aims to end the pain of poverty every winter through donations & awareness building, giving schools & communities opportunities to rally around these issues.
According to a recent ABS report, over 116,000 women, children and men are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness on any given night in Australia, a statistic Vinnies knows all too well. It’s easy to forget that people struggling to make ends meet are people just like you and me and they face choices no-one should have to make.
And when the cold hits around Australia, it only amplifies these struggles.
For years now, through the initiatives driven by the Young Vinnies Conference here at the College, Mazenod has collectively agreed that these outcomes for Australians experiencing poverty are unacceptable and has decided to do something about it.
From 2016 to 2017, Vinnies members around Australia provided over $1.8 million in direct assistance including food vouchers, parcels or donations to people in need. And here at the College, we contribute to that by running & supporting programs that not only raise money or make food hampers but also generally raise awareness for the issues that these generous offerings go on to support.
These programs include a Winter Sleepout (challenging students to experience what it’s truly like to be homeless), a Letter Writing Campaign (allowing students to compose personal letters for real people living in poverty) and a Food/Can Drive (providing opportunities for Mazenod families to donate goods to go directly to local homelessness organisations).
There are plenty of ways to get involved, and over the coming editions of the newsletter, we’ll not only be focussing on these programs and more information on them, but we’ll also be shining a spotlight on some of the people and places that turn our programs and donations into real change.
'A few photos from the 2018 Sleep Out'
Beyond the small group of students who meet each week and push these initiatives, seeing the whole school come together to write a short message, donate a can of spaghetti or give up a good night’s sleep shows the compassion and charity that runs through the fabric of the Mazenod Spirit.
And that’s a cause I can get behind!
Written by Kai Lovel
Parent Information and Permission Slip
As a member of the Mazenod Young Vinnies, your son has been invited to participate in the 2019 Winter Appeal Sleep Out to be held on Tuesday 2 July 2019. The primary focus of the event will be to raise awareness and compassion for those who are homeless through the experience of sleeping out on a winter’s night with only a cup of warm soup and a roll for dinner, and then having to face a day at school.
Attached is an outline for the evening, including what the boys will need to bring and also the sponsorship form. If you are happy for your son to attend please sign the consent and medical forms attached and return to the school by Monday 24 June 2019.