The Lifewise Big Sleepout is happening tonight in Auckland with a bunch of influential kiwis sleeping rough to raise critical awareness and funds for Lifewise’s highly successful approach to homelessness.

With the temperature estimated at a chilly 6 degrees tonight, sleepers will certainly get a feel for what it’s like sleeping rough in winter.

In responding to the issue of homelessness we must first acknowledge that public perception of homelessness is rife with misunderstandings and stereotypes. The most common of these is that homelessness is a choice.

Contributing factors to homelessness vary based on individual circumstances. Financial difficulty and the inability to afford adequate housing are central to the issue of homelessness. Often these are accompanied by other problems such as family breakdown, domestic violence, poor physical or mental health, substance abuse and other addictions.

Stereotypes would try to restrict the image of a homeless person to a certain sex or age however, homelessness does not discriminate.

This year the Lifewise Big Sleepout is putting a spotlight on young people affected by homelessness.

Young people aged 16-24 make up half of New Zealand’s homeless population and their situations vary from couch surfing to sleeping rough. Up to 80% of the young people Lifewise gets to know have gone through the care system. For those who transition badly out of care at 17, homelessness is a real risk. Often mental health issues and addictions have resulted from being born into the cycle of instability and compound to create real barriers for accessing help. Homeless youth are an immensely vulnerable segment of society who deserve a compassionate and committed response.

We commend all participants and urge you to donate now via the website, if you can. 

(text from the Lifewise Big Sleepout website)