SumoSalad Hits the Street with Vinnies Night Patrol
As part of SumoSalad’s commitment to heat up the street for people experiencing homelessness this winter, we took the team out on Vinnies Night Patrol in two of Australia’s biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, to get in touch with the people who are really doing it tough this winter.
We provided hot soups and tasty wraps for the evening, helped to serve, gave out blankets and spent time well into the night getting to know plenty of interesting, funny and warm characters who made us all feel at ease.
Watch our video of how our Martin Place event in Sydney’s CBD went, and then read about some of our experiences from the evening below.
Our Team’s Experiences
Luke Baylis – CEO & Co-Founder
I was amazed by how great last night was. It was an incredibly humbling experience and really opened my eyes to better understand this issue. I was really proud of each of our staff members for devoting their personal time and also saw a side of each of them that was empathetic and compassionate.
People on the night loved the food and loved being served with a smile!
Despite having done Night Patrol before, this week’s experiences have been completely different to previously. Being far more mature now than the last time I did it [as a teenager with school], I had a really rewarding and eye opening experience.
I learnt that people’s common attitude of “why don’t they just get a job” is so far off. A lot of the people on the streets are highly intelligible, and seemingly “normal people” but there are far greater issues at play.
Some of the people I spoke to told me about how they lead normal lives, but were hit by depression and anxiety and lost their jobs – lack of support structure around them meant that they could not get by, and ended up homeless. Being able to talk to these people in a comfortable and controlled setting changed my perceptions about homeless massively – there is far more to the person than what you see when they are sitting down begging as you walk through the city.
Every one of them was special in their own way, and all had a great story to tell.
The most rewarding thing for me was having three separate men come up to me and tell me that they remembered my face from over 7 years ago. That really hit me hard – it showed just how truly appreciative they are of what the volunteers at Vinnies do.
Despite only being in their lives for one or two nights many years ago, the act of me giving and caring will stay with them for a very long time after.
I thought it was an awesome experience and glad we all got to share it together as a team.
It changed my attitude towards the stereotypical homeless type and I met some really great people. It was interesting, we learned in our training that we would take home a face or two and remember them – this morning I woke up thinking about my buddy that I gave my scarf and beanie to. Very humbling.
Volunteering for Vinnies Night Patrol was an eye opener for me. It gave me a snapshot of the range of people affected by homelessness in Sydney. They come from all walks of life and every person’s story is different.
I had a really interesting conversation with one gentleman in particular. He was very knowledgeable and has kept abreast of local and world news. It made me realise many of these members of our community still have a passion for life and learning and value the little things that some of us may take for granted, such as clean clothes and the company of friends and family.
My biggest reflection is that homelessness comes in different shapes & demographics, and for lots of different reasons…
I was truly touched by the heart-warming open, clever and well-travelled conversation with lots of the people on the night and once again realised that these people, besides being vulnerable and very lonely, are searching to be seen, heard and respected like the rest of us.
It was great to do something good for the community as a business, which shows we are about more than just the “bottom line.” The people weren’t as isolated from the world as I had previously had the perception they were. Many of them had iphones and Opal cards and talked about things that you or I would talk about. There was definitely a sense of community among the clients as they knew each other, in some cases for many years. It was certainly an eye-opening experience and I am proud to have been part of this.
Our CEO & Co-Founder Luke Baylis is taking his fundraising effort to the next level at the Vinnies CEO Sleepout this June! Support him and help out Vinnies so that they can support people really doing it tough this winter.