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‘Roughin’ It’ to pay it forward for homeless Victorians

Image source: Unsplash

From April 16 to 23, people were invited to participate in The Roughin’ It
Challenge, hosted by Launch Housing. The aim of the cause was to raise
money and awareness for homeless Victorians.

With the choice of one, three or five days, participants were required to ‘rough
it’. This meant living without the normal creature comforts; no bed, one bag and
under ten dollars a day.
 
Launch Housing’s General Manager of Campaigns and Engagement, Howard
Ralley played a significant role in designing the challenge and also took part in
it himself.

Not only was it an opportunity to put oneself in the shoes of those who sleep
rough, Howard emphasised the hope that it would trigger conversations in
homes and offices about what being homeless actually means.

Howard participated in the challenge for two days and found he had to resist
everyday instincts, became acutely aware of his surroundings and struggled
with a good night’s rest.

“I initially slept in my car and after about ninety minutes I realised that just
wasn’t an option, I was uncomfortable, I was frozen, I couldn’t get a wink of
sleep, so I ended up sleeping in my garage where at least had a shelter over my
head so that was better,” Howard said.

The most recent census in 2016 found that there were 24,817 homeless
individuals in Victoria and 116,427 Australia-wide. Between 2012 and 2016,
Victoria’s homelessness rate increased by 11 per cent and Australia’s by 13.7
per cent.

Toughing the battles of Melbourne’s winter nights, participants slept on their
porch, in their garage, or in a car, with items like simply a sleeping bag.

“You’re very aware of the city around you, you hear everything. The helicopters overhead, cars roaring up roads, shouts that you probably wouldn’t hear in your bedroom, and you just feel that much more vulnerable of the city around you, that was an eye opener straight away”.

Howard Ralley

In order for participants to dig a little deeper, they were also sent ‘mini
challenges’ via text. One was to walk around your neighbourhood and try to
imagine where you would actually sleep without a porch, garage or car.

On Howard’s walk, it particularly struck him where his focus went and how
differently you were looking at places so familiar, but through a completely
different lens. He found himself completely absorbed in the notion of how
tough it is to sleep rough.

“I was walking around and suddenly you’re looking at parks, overhangs near
factories, places that would keep dry,” he said.

The most difficult part for him was the ten-dollar limit. “Just thinking through
what food I can have, became all consuming”, he said. It demanded conscious
decisions, and ones that ultimately came down to survival.

“On ten dollars a day, you think am I going to have an okay dinner or do I cut that and have a decent breakfast? Every decision becomes important.”

Howard Ralley

In its first year of what is intended to be an annual event, the challenge has
raised 115,313 dollars in donations from participant supporters. These funds
raised will contribute to Launch Housing’s goal to end homelessness.

If you have the means to, consider donating to Launch Housing here.

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Lara Shearer

Lara graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts (Hon.), with majors in journalism and human rights and went on to complete an Honours year in Journalism. Lara is a podcast producer for Triple R, was a contributing writer to Esperanto Magazine and has done freelance writing. With a passion for storytelling and moving people, she has an avid interest in documentary filmmaking and podcasting. Lara was drawn to The Advocate because she doesn't want a cog in the machine role, she wants to be part of something special and thus have a positive impact.

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