The Big Sleepout: Participants to endure coldest night in June to raise awareness of homelessness

Over 140 of New Zealand's top entrepreneurs and business and community leaders have registered to participate in Lifewise's Big Sleepout on Thursday, 20 June - one of the coldest nights of the year.

Lifewise is an Auckland-based community social development organisation, who focus on developing new ways to solve challenging social issues. 

Participants will help raise funds for Lifewise and their focus on preventing homelessness.

An integral discourse in battling increasing homelessness is understanding the cycles that lead to it - and breaking them.

"We're moving in the right direction, however, for most people, a home is only the first step in their journey," says Lifewise Chief Executive Moira Lawler.

"Being able to support tenants with wrap around services, driven by them, supports them to sustain their tenancies, address health needs, and reestablish their lives."

New Zealand's homelessness statistics are on the rise.
New Zealand's homelessness statistics are on the rise. Photo credit: Newshub.


The Big Sleepout is being held at Auckland's Eden Park for the first time. Participants will be stripped of their creature comforts and "left to battle the elements". They can say goodbye to a sheet or duvet - just a piece of cardboard to sleep on.

Friends, family, colleagues or the public can pledge donations for their commitment to the cause.

Renee Coulter, whose restaurant Coco Cantina has been in the K Road community for a decade, is taking part.

"I'm doing the Big Sleepout because I don't want to accept homelessness. I don't want homelessness to be something we learn to live with. Homelessness should always be a shock. It's a shock because it's a solvable problem," says Coulter.

Tayyaba Khan from Relationship Manager Investment at the Tertiary Education Commission has also signed up.

"As a New Zealander I have always been most proud of our ability to be progressive on many fronts in comparison to other parts of the world. It's why I truly believe we can find the solution and an all-encompassing holistic path to addressing the concerns of rough sleepers.

"One way of doing this is by supporting organisations like Lifewise to creatively carve the path to finding solutions. I am also keen to put myself in the shoes of others to somewhat understand and find compassion that is so much a part and parcel of my faith," says Khan.

The Big Sleepout is still looking for participants for this year's event to contribute towards ending homelessness.


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