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Gimme Shelter – Sleepout at the Albert Hall

By johnboy 31 August 2009 28

[First filed: August 29, 2009 @ 10:19]

Homelessness in Canberra is a bit of a hidden problem thanks to the cold. But it’s still out there, and one day it could be you.

This media release came across my desk and I offer it for your consideration, either to participate, or to sponsor:

    Cold, uncomfortable and unfamiliar. That’s the reality most nights for many people who are homeless in Canberra.

    And when the mercury drops the daily search for shelter becomes harder, and more urgent.

    The cold also comes as a shock to the hundreds of young people who flock here every year to work for the Commonwealth public service. It’s the stuff of a million jokes. We can laugh because we’ve got secure jobs, as well as central heating.

    But on 11 September we’re going to try and get a better idea of what it’s like to be out in the cold. About
    150 young professionals are going to be “sleeping rough” in Albert Hall. We’ll get a cup of soup and bread and a spot on the floor, but not much else.

    “Most homeless people in Canberra don’t have much certainty”, says event organiser Giles Dickenson-Jones, who works for Treasury and who is President of Spring, a volunteer organisation for young professionals.

    “They bounce between temporary and crisis accommodation, or jump from couch to couch, trying to stay with friends, family, or whoever will take them in.”

    “So for one night we’ll be doing what many homeless people do – sleeping in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable place. It won’t be that tough a night when you compare it to what homeless people face every day. But it will give us a rough idea of what it’s like, and help us raise awareness of homelessness in Canberra.”

    “More importantly, it will help us to raise money for Barnardos, which is one of Australia’s largest community organisations. It provides shelter and financial support to young people who are homeless and disadvantaged families in Canberra.

    Everyone who’s taking part in the sleep out will be asking their friends and family to sponsor them. And all proceeds will be handed over to Barnardos, and ploughed back into the vital services they provide.

    Mr Dickenson-Jones says dozens of young public servants have already signed up, and he’s hoping hundreds more will follow their lead.

    “Our generation is pretty sheltered, so we’re putting out the call — come and share some shelter with your mates.”

    “It won’t be a comfortable night, but it will still be a fun one. There will be live music, entertainment and a late night movie. We’ll also have some great guest speakers from Barnardos and other organisations, who can tell us how we can do more to help them help others.”

    WHAT: Gimme Shelter
    WHEN: 7:00 pm Friday 11 September until 9:00 am September 12
    WHERE: Albert Hall
    Giles Dickenson-Jones – 0439 472 603
    Erin Miller – 0403 532 339

What’s Your opinion?

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28 Responses to
Gimme Shelter – Sleepout at the Albert Hall
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Oldest to Newst 7:17 am 20 Oct 09

So, how did this go? Was it a comfortable / uncomfortable experience? Did it raise many funds / much awareness of homelessness?

needlenose 6:27 pm 03 Sep 09

BTW, as part of the “live entertainment”, let me confirm that no money is being spent on us! We’re donating our services, as I believe are the other performers on the night.

peterh 12:07 pm 02 Sep 09

want to make it an uncomfortable experience? turn off the power, no heaters, and the live entertainment can go acoustic.

I recognise what barnardos are saying, but in order to make the event sobering and life changing, not to mention promoting greater goodwill towards the unfortunate people who live on our streets, the people who do have these luxuries need to forgo them.

I have spent the night in albert hall, many, many years ago. with the heat running it isn’t that bad. I have also spent the night in a stairwell in winter. That was terrible.

There are far more homeless people that have been assisted by charities such as barnardos, and with the little bit of help and encouragement we received, we have “joined” society again.

Qaxter 9:13 pm 31 Aug 09

Shelter or the Streets in the mid 80s did a sleepout near the Civic Merry go-round sometime in August. No rain, no entertainment nor food. It was ok and raised a little media interest and was somewhat related to various squats running at the time. It was a tiring night but not too bad – made me appreciate 4 walls and a roof and the ability to pay rent. The squats were quite good fun with lots of fantastic support from various large unionists when the dirty developer tried to send in thugs to move people on so they could develop residential properties. Well that did happen and there seem to be more people around sleeping rough – I guess from decline in mental health residential facilities, more expensive housing and less cheap/subsidized accommodation for those doing it tough. Good luck to this new effort – a novel experience for the 150 involved and maybe some good will come of it.

Pommy bastard 1:16 pm 31 Aug 09

Fair comments Emma, and apologies for my negative preconceptions.I hope you can understand the reasoning behind them.

barnardos 1:02 pm 31 Aug 09

As the beneficiary charity of this event we just wanted to respond to some of the comments on here that appear to have misinterpreted the spirit of the Gimme Shelter event. Spring Volunteers, the group of young professionals who have organised Gimme Shelter, are community-minded young people who regularly do voluntary work and organise fundraising events. They are individuals who have chosen to give something back to the community they live in. It is only with the support of the ‘haves’ in our society that charity organisations such as ourselves can help the ‘have nots’.

Several of the members of the group became aware of the work Barnardos does with homeless families and young people in Canberra and wanted to do something to support the work we do. They are not pretending to be experiencing the harsh reality of homelessness, and nor we would want them to, however they will raise awareness about homelessness amongst other ‘haves’ – their peers, friends, family and colleagues – and crucially the money they raise will go directly towards programs that provided vital support and assistance to the families and young people who sadly are experiencing that harsh reality.

The poster was designed to get other young professionals, who have the ability to get involved and raise money, thinking about what it would be like to be homeless. Thankfully for many of us thinking about it is as close as we’ll ever get to being homeless, but if Gimme Shelter results in a few more ‘yuppies’ engaging with the issues and taking some responsibility for problems in their community then that can only be a good thing.

It is reassuring to see that so many people on this site have a strong awareness and concern about homelessness. If you would like to organise a fundraising or awareness raising event of your own then please get in touch. For more information about our work visit

kind regards
Emma Smith
PR & Communications Manager
Barnardos Australia

OzPhoenix 12:36 pm 31 Aug 09

And to further back up what I said above, on searching and finding their website they even say:

“It won’t be nearly as tough as a night on the streets. But it will give us a rough idea of what it’s like to sleep in a strange place you can’t call home. Best of all you can help us achieve our goal of raising $15,000 for Barnardos Australia.”

So you can see there, they’re not trying to be martyrs they just trying to raise money!

If you’re interested, here’s the site:
And specifically:

OzPhoenix 12:24 pm 31 Aug 09

hmmm, surprised how many people are saying this is a crap idea purely because it’s not as hard as actually living on the streets. Think about it people, it’s not meant to be a real simulation of living on the streets, it’s not about people being martyrs for their cause. It’s not a hunger strike.

I see it as a means to get as many young people as possible involved, so that they can in turn get as much sponsorship as they can from as many other people. That will enable Barnardos to generate as much as possible to then go on to help as many people as they can – the ultimate aim.

The point here is to get large numbers involved to generate as much money as possible to help as many people as possible. You’re not going to get a large number of people volunteer to be treated poorly, but you will if you can inject a bit of fun into it and give people a sense they’re doing something worthwhile.

This idea has the potential to interest young people, and in turn they can get all their friends and family to sponsor them and get some money back to the homeless. So for that, I think it’s a great idea, as it has great potential to help people and get some more awareness out there about the homeless situation in Canberra.


Now if only I could read the website address on that image… grrr…

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