Digicall Assist, CEO Michael Curtin shares why he has committed to participate in the St Vincent De Paul CEO Sleepout for the 3rd year running

We asked Digicall CEO Michael Curtin why he is participating again in this year’s St Vincent De Paul CEO sleepout… here’s what he had to say.

What is the CEO Sleepout?

The latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that 105,237 people in Australia are experiencing homelessness, with 60% of those under the age of 35. Perhaps surprising to many people is that 44% of these are women, 13% are under the age of 12. St Vincent De Paul are key support service for many homeless.  Each night in Australia, thousands of people stay in crisis accommodation facilities run by community organisations like the St Vincent de Paul Society. The CEO Sleepout is an annual event designed to raise awareness of how homelessness feels and raise much needed funds for St Vincent DePaul.

Why have you signed up again this year.

It’s a great event and I feel I can make a difference in some small way by participating.  I also really like the approach that St Vinnie’s takes of giving people a hand up not a hand out.  It aligns with what we do at Digicall Assist, we are all about helping people so there’s that common thread.  By personally putting myself through the sleepout experience I can create much more awareness and funds than if I simply donated.  Over the past two years I’ve raised $12,475, and this year alone I’m hoping to raise $10,000.

Michael’s accommodation at the 2016 CEO Sleepout

Tell us a bit about what happens at the CEO sleepout.

You arrive between 6 and 7 pm and the event starts by the CEO sleepout team giving you a sense of what the homeless experience.  Last year we did some role playing to help you walk in the shoes of someone who has fallen on hard times.  Last year, I played the role of an alcoholic father who had lost his job and young family and who was suddenly homeless.  I had to take on the challenge of trying to access government or charity support.  It really highlighted to me the complexity and difficulty of trying to do that when you don’t have access to transport, phone or email. After an hour of trying to do that, I was very frustrated by the end of it.

We then were given sheets of cardboard and find a spot that’s suitable for the night.  Last year there were about 200 of us that slept at the Tram Sheds at Eveleigh.  We picked a spot that was as protected from the rain and wind as possible.

We then get to hear from people who have actually found themselves homeless and who have found a way to turn their lives around and get themselves out of poverty.

We’re given a cup of soup which constitutes dinner for the night and then tuck in for a very difficult night’s sleep.  Last year I got next to no sleep and found it bitterly cold.  The previous year we had torrential rain.

I’m then up at first light which is about 5am.  I dust myself off and gather my things and head home to family, a hot shower and a warm bed.  You really realise how much you take those comforts for granted.

What’s surprised you about the experience previously?

Although it’s clearly for one night, it’s surprising how isolated you can feel.  Being away from your family and sleeping outside, you really notice it.  You get a sense of how much of a problem the social isolation would be.  The team at St Vincent De Paul make it very experiential and give you a real sense of what you would feel like if you were in that situation.

I am also surprised by how much my team at Digicall and clients get behind it and donate.  It feels great to facilitate all of those people supporting the cause.

It’s really interesting as well, what a humbling experience it is for everyone involved.  In previous years, I’ve participated with some well known dignitaries and everyone is in the same boat in that situation, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do.

What are you hoping to achieve this year.

As well as raising the $10,000, I’d like to share more of my experience. I plan to do some video and and share on social media so I can raise more awareness.

Where do people go to Donate

You can donate online via my page on the CEO Sleepout web site.