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Tasmanians virtually hang out for homelessness

Tasmanians virtually hang out for homelessness

Tasmanians virtually hang out for homelessness

8 September 2020

People gathered across Tasmania for the virtual Salvos SleepOut to raise funds for the Street2Home program. Top row from left: Participants from Woolworths Group, Auxiliary-Lieut David Bruford, Major Brad Watson in the studio. Bottom row from left: Josh Willie MLC, Terry Howard and Captains Jacqui and Jeff Milkins from Glenorchy City Corps, the Derwent Valley Youth Future Action Team.

By Jessica Morris

The Salvos’ Ben Hirst helps Haig Rice, Managing Director of Spidertech Pty Ltd, into his hanging tent at the Salvos SleepOut 2020 in Hobart.

Tasmania’s 2020 Salvos SleepOut had it all – sleeping bags, beanies, Wi-Fi and a tent hanging 40 metres off the ground!

The communal event went virtual this year as people across the state rallied to raise funds for The Salvation Army Street2Home Housing program.

“It was a really significant change to the way we delivered the event, but the beauty of that was we went from having limits on participation and age to having no limits,” said Major Brad Watson, Public Relations Secretary for Tasmania.

More than 74 people of all ages participated in this year’s sleepout, raising more than $61,000 to help rough sleepers. Some slept on porches and in car parks in the suburbs, youth from Hobart and Derwent Valley corps rugged up in church buildings, and corporate sponsor Spidertech’s managing director Haig Rice hung 40 metres from Hobart’s Hotel Grand Chancellor in what was affectionately known as ‘Haig’s tent’.

“He slept with us on the ground last year as a participant and he came to us with the suggestion,” said Brad. “Spidertech provides building and scaffolding safety gear, so he slept on a platform normally used by rock climbers, held up by carabiners, and was winched up to about 40 metres!”

Beyond sharing a purpose and passion to end homelessness, participants were connected by a live-stream throughout the evening. It featured interviews with former clients, and pre-recorded tours of Hobart’s Safe Space for rough sleepers, the Australian Italian Club Hobart Meal Program, and Coffee Ground [a social enterprise café at The Salvation Army Housing service on Campbell Street].

Leon Compton, host of the ABC Radio’s morning program in Hobart, facilitated a panel discussion with leaders in the sector to end the evening. Panel members included Hobart City Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds, Independent Member for Nelson Meg Webb, CEO of Shelter Tasmania Pattie Chugg, and the Salvos’ Don McCrae, team leader of the Street2Home program.

By mixing this with live crosses to Haig’s tent, it was a bonding experience that could change the way future sleepouts are hosted.

“Going forward we can consider holding hybrid events, and ask, ‘How can we give people the experience of sitting around the campfire and talking to people who have experiences of homelessness while still reaching this broader audience?’ said Brad. “We can give greater opportunities for people to participate.”



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