But after that things looked up. My concerns were baseless. The 148 CEOs who signed up were more than well looked after by the hordes of enthusiastic and friendly St Vincent de Paul volunteers. Delicious soup and roll for dinner, tea/coffee and fruit for dessert.
Later in the evening we listened to a set of tremendous presentations from Vinnies explaining the important work they do and how the funds raised would be spent, the personal stories of three former homeless people, and a summary of the results of some recent research into homelessness.
The tragedy and futility of homelessness, and the need to do more to counter it was abundantly clear. Okay, I understand why we are all here.
We then retired for the evening (at least some of us did – some talked well into the night – very loudly). My sleeping bag and pillow ended up being warm enough, but the bright lights (from the football pitch recovery system), noise and unrelenting hardness of the concrete meant not much sleep was had. Plenty of time for reflection.
Most were up by 5:30 (they weren’t sleeping that well anyway). Breakfast was real coffee (from an espresso machine – there was a long queue) and porridge and honey (another long queue) served by yet more volunteers. At 6:00, Vinnies thanked us all for our participation and we were on our way.
So what did I learn? I really hadn’t thought that much about homelessness before, and most of that was probably value-judgement laden. The reality is far more serious, far more extensive, and demands we do more. I’ll be back next year, with the aim of raising more. I will also be thinking about what else I can do, personally and through work.
Donations will be open for several weeks yet. If you would like to support this most deserving of charities I would appreciate it greatly.