'My 30-year journey from sleeping rough to Sleepout'

The Vinnies CEO Sleepout in Sydney last night (Facebook/Vinnies NSW)

It’s quite terrifying to remember, but 30 years ago I was living rough, not far from Sydney’s Matthew Talbot Hostel, where the St Vincent de Paul Society might have given me shelter, writes Jason Blaiklock. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Then, however, I didn’t have the capacity to reach out for help.

A few weeks ago, I went to the hostel for the launch of the 2021 Vinnies CEO Sleepout campaign. Until then, I had not shared my own story publicly – that I’d once been homeless. It’s such a profoundly sad time to think about. I was broken; my mind was broken.

But when I was at the hostel, I saw a man with the same look in his eyes that I knew I had as a young man. I couldn’t connect with him; he stared right through me. Thirty years ago, I would have stared right through you. I would have been unwashed, my head shaved. You wouldn’t have given me two seconds.

My journey, from living rough to CEO, was long and hard. At the time I felt I didn’t deserve a hand up. I saw the worst in people as they passed me by.

But I also saw the best in people. One lady gave me a sandwich. I hadn’t eaten for three days. I sat down with her and ate and took a bit of common sense from her. That one act of kindness gave me a moment of clarity. The madness disappeared and I was able to make one good choice. I chose accommodation, and that was the start of my journey out of homelessness.

Jason Blaiklock is chief executive of Australian Opal Cutters. He was a participant in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout in Sydney last night. For details on the event or to donate, visit ceosleepout.org.au


I’m a CEO sleeping out for Vinnies, but 30 years ago I really was sleeping rough (Sydney Morning Herald) 

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