A partnership between Homelessness NSW,
Domestic Violence NSW and Yfoundations

Program - Sleep in Your Car Event at Platform Youth Services

Excellence in Ending Homelessness - Young People Nominee

Program - Sleep in Your Car Event at Platform Youth Services

Please give your reasons for nominating this program.

Platform Youth Services joined forces for another year with Fusion Youth Services, Western Sydney, to hold an event called “Sleep in Your Car” in Winter on August 4th 2017. The event was to raise awareness and crucial funds needed to prevent and support young people who are experiencing homelessness in Western Sydney.

The event is aimed to provide an environment and experience that created an understanding of the plight of those who are homeless and what it is like to live without a home by having participants (staff, their families, clients of the programs and the local community) experience this first hand by sleeping in their cars or in some instances people sleeping on the ground and out in the freezing cold and exposed to the harsh conditions of the weather being Winter utilising cardboard boxes.

The purpose of Community Organisations within the homelessness sector coming together was to strengthen the networks, supports and to provide community education and raise awareness of youth homelessness within the local community. Platform Youth Services and Fusion Youth Services were innovative in the way in which they were able to capture a large audience (be it in the sector and the public) through delivering  the Sleep in Your Car Event. This really enabled these Organisations to raise awareness and educate people around homelessness and the issues affecting this disadvantaged group and the need for ongoing and additional funds for the sector.

A range of Services had committed in various forms, such as: Headspace-youth mental health service, Don Bosco -youth activity service, One Voice Shower Bus, Bridging the Gap-Counselling, FACS-Housing Solutions, Police, Community Junction-youth engagement service, Mama Lana-community based food service, Your Town- youth family accommodation Service, Break Through- Youth employment service, West Connect- Domestic Violence and Penrith Council. 

There was a lot of event promotion across Western Sydney leading up to this event, media releases in the surrounding local papers, radio advertisement, websites, banners, brochures, promotional material (Platform beanies). On the night of the 4th August 2017 there was stalls from Platform Youth Services, Fusion Youth Services and other community services that provide supports to homeless young people. A BBQ by Rotary was set up where we were positioned – at St Marys train Station –  this commenced in peak hour, so it gave Platform Youth Services and Fusion Youth Services a peak opportunity to talk with people who were approaching us and asking what we were doing and why we were doing it. It also stopped people in the tracks as they got off the train hastily to get to the comfort of their warm vehicles to go home to their houses and families. Many of the public members stopping who did stop to speak also wanted to join the plight and donated money towards the cause.

What outcomes were delivered as a result of this program?

The Sleep in Your Car Event raised over $16,000 for Platform Youth Services and Fusion Youth Services Western Sydney, both of which will continue to work with young people whom are homeless and/or at risk of becoming.

This event captured and connected with more than 250 people of the local community and some of these were including local businesses. The Community appeared to be talking of this event for some weeks afterwards and families attended on the night to help educate their own children about homelessness and participated in the program items for the night Stating “it was one of the best things they have done as a family unit”.

An ex client “Mary” (fictitious name to withhold identity) publicly spoke about her experience and journey of homelessness. “Mary” has been helped out of homelessness by Platform Youth Services in Western Sydney. Conversations had with many participants after the event have said that hearing Mary’s story was profound, moving and one of the main highlights at the event was hearing her story, where her freedom depended on her leaving the only home she ever knew. “Mary” said “This is the second Sleep in Your Car Event I have attended and the first was on a cold night in 2015 when I was living at Katoomba Youth Refuge. I remember hearing touching stories of lives changed by these services and now 2 years later, independent and stronger than ever, I am standing here sharing mine”. Mary “now lives independently and studies at University all with the assistance and support of homeless services such as Platform”.