A long-standing partnership between AUT University and Lifewise is set to boost Auckland’s approach to tackling homelessness. With 85 business and community leaders participating in this year’s Lifewise Big Sleepout on AUT’s city campus over 4-5 July, this is shaping up to be the biggest year yet. But as John McCarthy explains, “AUT does far more than simply host the event; they get right behind it, with the Vice Chancellor Derek McCormack once again leading a team of AUT staff taking part.”
“This year Lifewise and AUT want to achieve a first when it comes to tackling a social issue. We are working together to make the Big Sleepout an opportunity to innovate around homelessness. We are asking the 80 plus people gathered on the night to use their strategic minds in a think tank session that will help put an end to homelessness in our city. I cannot think of any other time when business, academia and the charitable sector have come together in this way to think creatively about a social issue.”
AUT has 10 sleepers braving the elements and sleeping out in the cold to raise awareness, with participants ranging from Dr Stephen Thorpe, Deputy Head of the School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences to Kizito Essuman, Student Union President to Derek McCormack, our Vice Chancellor, sleeping rough for a third year. For a full list of sleepers visit the event website: www.bigsleepout.org.nz, where you can view participants’ profiles and donate.
“Our challenge is to change the conversation and to come up with new and innovative ways to tackle homelessness. AUT supports this event because we believe in opportunity and that all New Zealanders should have an equal chance to be the best they can be” says Derek McCormack.
Lifewise knows that continuing to use old approaches to address homelessness won’t solve the issue. As general manager John McCarthy notes “Soup kitchens and night shelters have not solved homelessness so far, they simply alleviate the urgent need for food and shelter. If we’re serious about ending complex social issues like homelessness, we need fresh thinking and we absolutely need to involve people outside the social service sector. That’s where Lifewise’s partnership with AUT University really comes into its own.”
John McCarthy concludes “The partnership between Lifewise and AUT University works on so many levels. From research, to student and staff engagement and so much more, the openness of AUT University to support us to achieve our goals is something the whole team at Lifewise values highly.”