When you’re experiencing homelessness first-hand, often there’s no opportunity for a hot breakfast or a day off work after a rough night’s sleep.
Usually, you’re expected to function at work or at school the next day.
These harsh realities are precisely those the team at Soul Café Newcastle set out to uncover during the annual Sleepout for Soul.
The major fundraiser helps bankroll the cafés programs and services, including serving meals to the homeless and offering basic necessities like haircuts and health checks for those doing it tough.
For the second year, the café’s core team, including founders Rick and Sue Prosser and their sons Luke Prosser, 17, and Luke Conners, 26, slept on the streets for a week leading up to the annual event at Civic West Car Park last Friday night, when more than 200 community members joined in.
Currently in Year 12, Luke Prosser continued to go to school throughout the week, while Luke Conners went to work.
“It’s really eye-opening,” Conners told Newcastle Weekly.
“I’ve been exhausted [during the day]. I wouldn’t want to be doing this for months on end, especially when compounded by things like poor nutrition without services like Soul Café.
“It’s really opened my heart to what some people go through.”
Luke said last year, when a smaller group of people camped out for the week, he was more concerned about safety and fearing movement in the shadows.
This year, about eight of them took on the challenge, including Luke’s girlfriend, which left him feeling a lot safer, but gave him more insight into the exhaustion some people face when they’re homeless but still have daytime commitments.
“I’ve tried not to shy away from decision-making and tasks like that, because otherwise you don’t get the whole picture,” he added.
“It gives you a whole new sense of gratitude.”
This year the Soul Café team aimed to raise $165,000, and it ??? that target, collecting ???
Last year, 300 participants raised more than $150,000.