Robert Kelly, MD and CEO, Steadfast Group and Josh Roach, MD, Marsh have raised more than $80,000 in the past few weeks to help St Vincent de Paul Society support homeless people.
Kelly and Roach joined fellow CEOs to sleep outside on Thursday June 21 as a part of an eye-opening experience to raise awareness and bring home the realities of homelessness.
Kelly said, “I remember being a young boy rescuing my grandfather and feeling so helpless. I want to do this in memory of my grandfather and for all the homeless people who have nowhere to go. It’s important to play a part and never forget how lucky I am.”
Temperatures dropped to as low as 9 degrees in Sydney during the sleepout with a light fog in the morning. Yet 327 CEOs rose to the challenge at the windy and exposed White Bay Cruise Terminal to experience a night in the cold.
Roach explains that for a lot of people, particularly in our industry, homelessness is a plight that seems very far removed from their own reality, “But if you look at the statistics and the causes of homelessness, it’s more than likely that someone in our organisation will have been affected by homelessness at a point in their lives. For Marsh, it’s a cause that our colleagues passionately support and one that, over the past five years of fundraising, we’ve rallied the industry to get behind as well.”
This year Roach stood in for Marsh CEO, Scott Leney, who was off-duty on account of recent back surgery. Scott is a four-time CEO Sleepout veteran and a Vinnies Ambassador, so Marsh was determined to continue their support of the event.
Kelly’s goal was to raise $20,000 but he has now surpassed that objective by a massive margin. Both Kelly and Roach are dominating the Sydney leaderboard at number one and eight respectively. The Sydney event has helped raise $1,802,149 from 9,748 supporters.
What really stood out for Roach during the sleepout was the deep sense of loneliness, “I was prepared for the discomfort of being cold and wet, along with the obvious challenges that you expect to face out there for one night. I didn’t anticipate the impact the feeling of loneliness would have on me and it made me wonder about how hard that must be to endure.
You mostly see people sleeping it rough on their own, without family and friends, and the isolation and a lack of human interaction must go a long way to compounding the other impacts of sleeping it rough. The takeaway for me is to stop and check-in with those you see on the street, even if it’s just to smile and say hi.”
Over 116,000 are experiencing homelessness in Australia – 28,191 of these in New South Wales. A severe lack of social and affordable housing joined with a range of complex social issues makes homelessness in New South Wales a complex problem.