AUT to host Lifewise's Big Sleepout

Friday 1 July 2011, 2:45PM

By AUT University



An estimated 100 people sleep rough in Auckland’s CBD every night. That number will double for one night next week when community and business leaders take part in this year’s Big Sleepout at AUT’s city campus.

Participants, including AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack, will spend the night outdoors in the Hikuwai Plaza on Thursday 7 July with only a sleeping bag and a piece of cardboard.

The Big Sleepout is a Lifewise initiative which aims to raise awareness and funds to help tackle the issue of homelessness in New Zealand.

McCormack says Lifewise do very valuable work with Auckland’s homeless population.

“This event puts the spotlight on an issue for which all society is responsible for. AUT has worked with Lifewise on projects assisting homeless people over several years, we are pleased to host this year’s event at the city campus.”

AUT has a longstanding relationship with Lifewise ever since the University approached what was then the Methodist Mission to find a solution to people sleeping rough on the city campus.

Holding the Big Sleep Out at the city campus builds on that relationship says Lifewise general manager John McCarthy.

“AUT ran an internal course on how best to help homeless people in the CBD which was later developed to train Auckland Council librarians and security guards.

“In addition, AUT students enrolled in mental health and catering courses help in our work with homeless people as part of a work placement commitment,” he says.

Statistics New Zealand have no official figures on homelessness in New Zealand, however Auckland Council estimate that more than 100 people sleep rough in Auckland’s CBD every night.

McCormack will be joined by AUT’s director of Corporate Relations Nigel Murphy and director of Facilities and Management Ian Robertshaw. Other prominent people taking part include Marc Ellis and former Auckland City mayor Dick Hubbard.