Rough night raises awareness

Sarah Pieschel and Darren Golding from Job Find complete their night of sleeping rough as dawn breaks over the Manning River.
Sarah Pieschel and Darren Golding from Job Find complete their night of sleeping rough as dawn breaks over the Manning River.

A SLEEP-OUT in Greater Taree City Council car park has been rated a huge success.

“It was a great evening and we raised thousands of dollars for homelessness,” Sarah Wilkinson, organiser on the council side of the event, said.

The council staff contingent was led by general manager Gerard José and included in the 40 participants were council staffers Ron Posselt, Margie Wallis, Brett Currie, Jeremy Miller, Jane Ree, David Hopper and Daniel Lawton. There were even staff and kind participants tucked away in their sleeping bags too as the news cameras arrived around 6am.

“We only had a small taste of what it must be like to be homeless,” theatre manager at Manning Entertainment Centre, Jeremy Miller said.

“Seriously, we might have had just a five per cent inkling of what it must be like to be homeless in Australia. We were in a secure area without fear of having our things stolen, or being harmed.”

A lone duck on the Manning River saw fit to routinely reply to one of the louder snorers. The snore-quack-snore-quack cycle was far from a lullaby, much to the begrudging amusement of some trying to sleep.

To keep the fun going, some members of the waste team seemed to have found themselves cling-wrapped to their beds! One of the top moments of the night came as it was time to put the lights out – and nothing happened. Due to a switch malfunction, revellers benefited from the lights staying on until about seven o’clock in the morning.

Both Father Steve and Reverend Helen from the Blue Cross Church were on-hand, and fabulous music in the early hours of the evening was provided by some of the Live and Loud artists. Super sets by Believe the Hype, followed by acoustic group Kavit, Tasha Joy Burton, and great accordion headed up by the Manning Entertainment Centre’s own Helen Knight and great violin as well.

The event organisers thanked the sponsors. Twenty pizzas were welcomed from Domino’s Pizza Taree, and the Taree Lions Club kindly put on a beautiful barbecued breakfast for all the participants, a welcome bit of nourishment after the cold night sleeping rough.

By 7.30am all participants had enjoyed their breakfast, and moved on, secure in the knowledge that they have done their bit to raise awareness and funds for an important issue.

See the Times website for our gallery of photographs