Every night 105,237 people go to sleep on the street, with no food, shelter or basic essentials; most wake up hungry, alone and afraid.
Nationwide that translates to 1 in 200 people – which is an 8% increase since the 2006 census.
Yet, instead of fighting the growing number of homelessness, the negative perception we have of those sleeping on our streets continues to grow.
There is a stigma attached to being homeless that, ‘they must be lazy, they are junkies, they are drug addicts, they are bludging off the system.’
It is greatly believed that homeless people put themselves in this situation, whereas often it is through no fault of they’re own that they end up on the streets.
Even greater is the belief that most homeless are older males.
In fact, statistics show that 60% of the homeless population is under the age of 35, with 44% of all homeless being women.
In addition, there are currently 17,000 Australian children under the age of 12 with no home and a further 10,9000 children between the ages of 12 -18 who are experiencing homelessness.
Marion Mays, the founder of Thalia Stanley Group, is hoping to break this stigma and correct the common belief held around the “homeless epidemic” in Australia.
“By giving comment to the critical factors that cause homelessness, specifically mental health issues and domestic violence, I want to challenge this myth and publicly dispel this incorrect notion,” Marion said.
In order to help make a change, Marion decided to register for the 2017 Vinnies Sleep Out to help raise both awareness and much-needed funds for the homeless and to eradicate the false beliefs surrounding the causes of homelessness in Australia.
“While I already support other causes, I felt that spending one night out in the chill would drive the plight of our homeless people home to those that may not necessarily see how serious a problem homelessness is in our communities,” she said.
During her campaign, Marion was shocked by the lack of support she received from people within her social and business network.
“What has blown me away is professional, educated, successful business owners who are in my circle telling me that whilst they would support me with any other cause, albeit they do not wish to donate, support or fund those who bludge off the system.”
“I just find it embarrassing and humiliating to be part of a society where homeless people are treated that way,” she added.
Homelessness occurs for many different reasons, but more often than not people are forced to the streets due to unemployment, family breakdowns, and drug and alcohol abuse in their living environment.
For many, sleeping on the streets is a refuge from the horrors at home.
“I think realistically we can understand that no one chooses the option of homelessness, so it’s a harsh reality when women and children think they are safer on the streets than they are under their own roofs,” Marion commented.
In addition, Marion also hopes to shed some light on the mental health issues that can often be a result of sleeping on the streets.
“If you’re extremely sleep deprived that can lead to mental health problems. With no permanent home, you have no routine, no stability and no real way to take care of yourself- not just your physical health but your mental heath also.”
“I want to help people come to terms with this idea, so we can really come together and stop “victim shaming” people who actually need our help.”
Since registering Marion has already raised over $6 000 dollars for the Sleep Out charity event, however, she is largely concerned about the judgment many hold about homelessness. She continues to reach out to the wider community to get behind the initiative and donate.
With the CEO Sleep Out taking place on June 22 right across the nation, there is still time to get involved. For more information or to make a donation visit the website.