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Braving the cold for Vinnies

Honouring grandma: The Vinnies CEO Sleepout hits home with general manager for QUT Enterprise Holdings Kris Trott, whose grandmother was homeless.

Honouring grandma: The Vinnies CEO Sleepout hits home with general manager for QUT Enterprise Holdings Kris Trott, whose grandmother was homeless.

By Emilie Ng

CONCRETE and cardboard gave Catholic mum Kris Trott a rough night’s sleep last week, but it was nothing compared to her own grandmother’s life as a homeless woman in Brisbane.

The QUT Enterprise Holdings general manager grew up watching her grandmother suffer from an alcohol addiction that led to her being homeless.

“She was, I think, quite infamous in West End,” Mrs Trott said.

“She used to live around Musgrave Park in one of the boarding houses in the time she had battled homelessness in her life.”

Mrs Trott said she barely saw her grandmother, at the request of her parents.

On Thursday, June 18, the Sandgate mum, whose children attend St Rita’s College, Clayfield, slept out at Suncorp Stadium for the sixth annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

She remembered her grandmother’s own battle of sleeping rough in Brisbane’s winter as she lay on the stadium’s concrete floor.

Mrs Trott was among the 204 community and business leaders who slept out at Suncorp Stadium in solidarity with Australia’s estimated 105,000 homeless people.

“I think any of us can end up being homeless, if the cards all turn the wrong way or you’re unlucky enough to lose everything or have any type of addiction issues,” she said.

“I think the health of your community is the health of your state, so the more we can support people to get them back on the road to having healthy lives the better it is for all of us.”

Registered CEOs and community leaders raised $798,880 by the night of the sixth annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout on June 18, with hopes to raise $1 million dollars in the following weeks.

All proceeds go towards building additional housing for the homeless.

St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland chief executive officer Peter Maher said it was “a privilege” to be part of an event that changed the lives of homeless Australians.

“I think when you reflect and think about it, Australia in the 21st century, no person should be homeless,” Mr Maher said.

“And we’re here at Suncorp Stadium, and if you fill the entire stadium twice, that’s about the number of people in Australia every night who are homeless.

“I think we’ve got to stand up as a community, as Australians, and say that this is not acceptable.”

Vinnies CEO Sleepout ambassador and former Brisbane Broncos rugby league star Jharal Yow Yeh, kicked a football outside the stadium, offering lucky catcher John Petri, of GJI, a $3000 reward which went towards his fundraising goal.

Mr Yow Yeh said he personally jumped in to help the Sleepout because of the rate of homelessness among Australia’s indigenous population.

“I know that it affects a lot of indigenous people in Australia and I think to try and change that is something that I would love to do,” he said.

“Personally that’s something I want to change, is the rate of not just indigenous people  (who are homeless) but everyone in general, but I do know how hard it is on my people as well.”

St Vincent de Paul Society northern diocese vice-president Annette Baker was grateful for the CEOs who chose to sleep out to help Australia’s homeless.

“I’m grateful because the work that they do enables us to do that work at the grassroots level,” Ms Baker said.

“The important thing is to get people housed.

“When you can get somebody housed, then you can help them to get on with life.

“And it’s just to come inside and feel safe – it’s not easy out on the street.”

Ms Baker along with fellow society members John Campbell and Peter Richards will be taking part in the Community Sleepout this year.

To donate to the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, visit www.ceosleepout.org.au.

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