Thank you for your interest in participating in this year’s Winter Appeal!

As we get into the colder months, Vinnies is preparing for a Winter Appeal that will reach more families just like Darren and Olivia’s*. Vinnies supported Darren and his daughter Olivia through homelessness and they’ve kindly shared their story to illustrate the situation many families are facing this winter. You can read Darren and Olivia’s story below.

How to Get Involved

There are lots of ways for schools to participate in this year’s Winter Appeal.

Check out out Schools kit to find classroom activities, speaking notes and read about your impact. You can also print our Digital Schools Poster to advertise the Appeal to your school community.

Our staff and members can give presentations and talks about homelessness and how to help the Appeal. If you’re not in touch already, see our Contact Us page to find the staff for your region.

You can build momentum about your activities and allow people to donate online by creating your own School Fundraising page. Alternatively, our general donation page is where any school or individual can make a once-off donation.

Vinnies School Sleepouts

Vinnies School Sleepouts provide students with an opportunity to get a glimpse of what it is like to be homeless by ‘sleeping rough’ for one night. Students gather sponsorship from friends and family for their Sleepout. Schools can run sleepouts in a variety of ways; you choose which grades participate, and whether the sleepout will be at school or ‘@home’. Vinnies staff can support with activities, reflections and resources for the night, or you can create your own.  For all sleepouts, schools can create a school sleepout fundraising page and track their progress.

This year, schools across NSW are participating in the Family Winter Sleepout @Home 2021 on Friday 30th July, following the success of the inaugural event last year. Families and students enjoyed the sleepout @Home model so much that we’re running it again this year across the whole state.

*Names have been changed for privacy, and images are representations of the people whom have kindly shared their story.

Tell us how you’re participating

Don’t forget to tell us how you’ll be participating! We love to see photos and hear stories about what you’re doing.

By fundraising on behalf of Vinnies NSW you are making a real difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness and disadvantage. Funds raised by your school can be designated to support your local conference.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’ve got questions, or to find out more. We’re here to help!

The NSW Youth teamChristina, Roydon, Fiona, Michelle, Cindy, Cassie, Rosie and Jesse.

Olivia and Darren’s story

For single dad Darren, a few years ago the costs of rent, utilities, food and healthcare became impossible to keep up with. He and his daughter Olivia became one of the 116,0001 Australians without a permanent, safe place to sleep. Darren had no steady work and no previous rental references. The real estate agents wouldn’t take him on as a tenant, and he felt hopeless.

Father and daughter spent many months moving from couch to floor, uncle to aunty, looking for somewhere safe to stay. Olivia would cling tightly to her dad as he called on every favour and begged every friend for help.

“I just kept doing what I had to do every day for her” said Darren.

“My little girl was worried every day. She used to ask me where we were going, what we were going to eat, where would we stay.” Darren explained.

For close to a year, they moved around, staying wherever they could. Some nights that would mean sleeping on a friend’s couch or finding a bed at a cheap motel. The routine tasks parents take for granted, like cooking dinner or running a bath, became a daily challenge or a luxury.

Finally, he turned to Vinnies for help. With the assistance of Danielle, a homelessness support worker, Darren was able to access financial counselling, parenting support, and most importantly, a home. He told us about the moment he and Olivia walked in the door…

“When we got the place, the look on Olivia’s face was just priceless. She couldn’t stop smiling. She just ran around the house, jumping up and down saying, ‘This is ours; this is ours!’”

Vinnies members, staff and volunteers like Danielle are working with families every day in need of permanent safe housing, or are at risk of losing their current home.

Vinnies also provides emergency food, toiletries, furniture, and clothes. We run fun days out for kids who are going through hardship, and cover bills to keep families in homes wherever possible.

Your school’s involvement in our Winter Appeal goes directly to helping families just like Olivia and Darren.