Sydney Catholic Schools’ (SCS) campaign to help stamp out chronic homelessness has been expanded across NSW.

SCS’ inaugural FamilyWinterSleepout@Home helped raise a staggering $71,531 for the lay Catholic organisation, St Vincent de Paul Society, during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown.

Now, dioceses across the state are inviting their students and families to take part in SCS’ Family Educators-led campaign.

The 2021 FamilyWinterSleepout@Home campaign will see people sleeping – or spending time – outside as a family on Friday 27 August with nothing but a cardboard base, sleeping bag and a single small blanket to raise money for Vinnies.

St John Bosco College Egadine students taking part in the FamilyWinterSleepout@Home at school

St John Bosco College Egadine students held their FamilyWinterSleepout@Home at school.

“Our second FamilyWinterSleepout@Home aims to bring families together to gain a deeper understanding of the realities of homelessness,” SCS’ Education Officer: Church Engagement, Elsa Manu, said.

Every night, more than 116,000 Australians experience homelessness. A quarter are young people aged under 18.

“Rural and urban families will participate in a lived experience, reflection and prayer for those who are experiencing homelessness at this time,” SCS Education Officer: Church Engagement, Mouna Roche, said.

Mrs Roche is quietly optimistic that together we can match last year’s dollar figure and help Vinnies break the cycle of homelessness.



The FamilyWinterSleepout@Home event has four parts:

1. Make a card and attach it to a muesli bar or other snack to be donated to Vinnies’ Night Patrol Vans.

The vans provide a meal, blankets, toiletries, snacks, hot beverages and companionship to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness seven nights a week, including in the Greater Sydney area. Last year, the vans provided 84,000 meals.

Homeless man holds sign that reads 'Struggling Can you Help' - Photo by Zoe Vandewater by Unsplash

Photo: Zoe Vandewater by Unsplash

2. Make soup together to drink during your family sleepout/sitout. Hot soup is something Vinnies’ soup vans usually distribute to the hungriest and neediest in our society. Their dedicated volunteers are called ‘Vannies’.

De La Salle Catholic College Cronulla students taking part in the FamilyWinterSleepout@Home at school

De La Salle Catholic College Cronulla’s FamilyWinterSleepout@Home sit out.

3. Sleep/sit outside in the cold on only a piece of cardboard and discuss with your family how you are feeling, including sharing some of the harsh facts about homelessness in Australia.

4. Once inside, watch this slideshow and pray together as a family for those sleeping under bridges, on park benches, in doorways or bus stations. You may wish to direct your prayers to Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, the patron saint of the homeless and downtrodden, who wore the rags of a beggar and shared his food with the poor.

Vinnies’ homelessness services include: accommodation; domestic violence refuges; food, clothing, blankets and sleeping bags; counselling and healthcare; and individualised support to address barriers such as debt and unemployment, with the ultimate goal of finding a permanent and safe home.

To register your involvement in Sydney Catholic Schools’ first ever statewide FamilyWinterSleepout@Home or to donate, visit: