In 1993, I fell behind in my rent and was evicted. I had a job, but for the next 4 months I lived in my car while I saved up enough money for a months bond and a months rent on another place. I would park in a car park near my old place for the night, and in the mornings, drive to a caravan park near by, sneak in, have a shower and go to work.
Since then, I have made a good living for years as a Chef, and Entrepreneur, for the most part living selfishly and not giving a second thought to those sleeping rough.
In May 2015, I was walking along Carlisle street in St. Kilda East, Melbourne, to my local Coles supermarket. As I approached the brand new Bank of Melbourne I see a bright, white doona crumpled up in the tiny alcove of an unused doorway. As I got closer I noticed there was a man curled up in the doona, on the hard concrete floor, trying to get some sleep… at lunch time.
So many people were walking past, looking, but moving on with their day, as I have probably done since 1993. This time I couldn’t walk past, I stopped and asked him if he was ok… he said “yeah mate, thanks, just trying to get some sleep”. He looked so tired. I said, “here mate” and gave him the $20 I had in my pocket. His eyes lit up, he smiled and was so grateful. He shook my hand, thanked me again with a smile and curled back up under the doona. When I got home, I told my family what had happened and tears rolled down my face.
That man, trying to sleep on a concrete floor, in the middle of the day, on a busy city street affected me in a profound way. And that’s a mild story; for many sleeping on the streets are being subjected to terrible weather, harassment, bullying, being robbed and worse. No one should have to live like that.
Charity. For me, charity is practical. It's the ability to use one's position of influence, relative wealth and power to affect lives for the better.
I’m not a religious person, but there's a story in the bible about a man beaten near death by robbers. He's stripped naked and lying on the roadside. Most people pass him by, but one man stops. He picks him up and bandages his wounds. He puts him on his horse and walks alongside until they reach an inn. He checks him in and throws down his Amex. "Whatever he needs until he gets better.”
Because he could.
The dictionary defines charity as simply the act of giving voluntarily to those in need.
Using my 20+ years of business experience, I set about developing a simple solution with a mission; to provide people sleeping “rough”, a safe overnight place to sleep. The more I developed and researched a solution, the more I discovered what a good nights sleep can do for a persons physical and mental health. Just being able to sleep through the night, warm and safe can give a person a whole new outlook on life.
Sleep Bus is distinct, yet complementary, to existing efforts from other organisations supporting Australians experiencing or at risk of ending up on the streets. Our work aims to fill a ‘gap’, rather than overlapping or replicating activities that support the urgent needs of people in Australia.
The least we can do is provide safe overnight accommodation to people sleeping rough in Australia, until they get back on their feet. Dear sleepbus Family.
We need to talk. It’s been 10 months since the idea of sleepbus was born and on the surface it looks like not much has happened, but the reality of setting up a Charity properly and for the long term takes time and more red-tape than I care to mention. That’s said, they are important steps and given our 100% model where all public donations go to sleepbus projects, it was important to make sure we did everything right from the start.
So what’s been happening. Well let me take you through the list. Bus Design:
Completed and is ready to go. The bus design includes 22 individual sleep pods, 2 toilets, 22 personal items lockers, under bus storage, 8 pet kennels, security system, lighting system inside & out and intercom system for family sleep pods with parental control locks. The toilet’s have been strategically located at the front of the bus to assist with the safety of guests within the bus.Sleep Pods:
Each sleep pods comes with single bed inner spring mattress, pillows, sheets and blankets (washed daily). The pod has USB charging for mobile phones, personal light, lockable roller door, climate control and Television with auxiliary channel running adverts for available services in the area to help with pathways out of homelessness. Each pod can be adapted for families, with parents able to control their child’s door lock and intercom for communication between designated family members only. Various sizes have been tested. I’ve slept in a pod every night for 3 weeks or so and found it very comfortable and cosy, which is important. Even the kids had a go. sleepbus Brand:
A complete brand has been developed including, various logos, our vision, mission and essence, all developed and documented. Our Vison:
To end the need for people sleeping rough in Australia.Our Mission:
To provide safe overnight accommodation for people sleeping rough in Australia.Our Mantra:
sleep changes everything.
We have two major fundraising and awareness events designed and planned to run each year and these are aimed at two very different target audiences. Sleep Bus Ltd has been registered (ABN 15 609 317 937),
charity constitution completed and register, Charity status lodged and awaiting our Deductable Gift Recipient status which takes several months. Two separate bank accounts have been setup to manage our 100% Model; one account is for public donations; this money will all go to sleepbus projects; the second account is for corporate donations to assist with the costs of running sleepbus. Money can be transferred from the corporate account to the public donations account to assist with projects, but can never be transferred from the public account to the corporate account. This is even written into our constitution.Website:
Thanks to a very generous donation from Zeemo.com.au
, we have a basic website up and running while the Zeemo team build our larger and more robust site for the future. Zeemo has also completed all the final logo designs and other branding, all of this is very time consuming and expensive work, but they were the first corporate to join the sleepbus family and do everything for free. Amazing. Volunteers:
sleepbus has been inundated with offers of support; Zeemo as mentioned, all the legal work has been donated, a company has offered to clean all our buses for free once we’re up and going and Belinda Jane Video.com
has offered their assistance to video the story of sleepbus from idea to birth and more. This will help you, our family, see everything that goes into building sleepbus, getting people off the street and provide safe sleeps. We have had many many other offers of help from individuals via our Facebook page
. I can’t express how amazing it feels to not only have people love and support an idea, but to also know, we’re not on our own, there is plenty of help at our disposal.
So where are we now and what’s next.
We have all the legal & Charity paperwork/red-tape done.
The bank accounts and tracking system is done.
Website stage one is up and the big bad boy of a site is underway and will be ready for launch this Winter.
We have media interest.
We have plans, designs, costings and material list done.
We have operational guidelines, checklists and manuals done.
We have our eye on several buses.
So all that is ready, and now sleepbus is ready to ask for donations to build the first of many buses and get people off the street. We want at least one bus on the road by this coming Winter. That one bus will provide 8,030 safe sleeps per year and can last up to 10 years before it needs major work or replacement. One bus costs approximately $50,000 to buy and build.
We have had significant interest from corporate organisations, but until now, two things have held us back, one; we weren’t prepared to do any deals or accept any money from anyone, until we were registered and everything was in order / two; corporates need to see proof of concept. What does that mean? They want to see the first bus up and running before they commit.
And fair enough. Talk is cheap. And I am expecting significant investment from our future corporate partners. After all, we have a goal for 300+ buses to build and operate across the country, we’ll need there help in a big way to reach our goals and provide enough safe sleeps across Australia. But for now, its up to us, the sleepbus family.
I really need your help. Winter is fast approaching, and we must have a bus built and ready to go by then. We need to stop doing paperwork now and begin the important work of getting people off the street and provide safe sleeps. One bus will provide 8,030 safe sleeps per year…just one bus. What can you do to help;
Share the sleepbus story & concept with everyone and anyone you know.
Introduce us to corporates that are interested in what we’re doing.
Start a campaign, at work or at home and raise funds for the first bus.
Donate; money & or goods to build the first bus
Donate your professional skills to the sleepbus cause; we need an accounting firm to complete our books and auditing requirements; we need ongoing legal support; we need material suppliers; we need a bus supplier; we need trades; electrical, plumbing, carpentry, welding/metal work, auto electrical, mechanic, sign writer, auto spray painting.
Introductions within local council addressing homelessness right now.Above all else, we need to get a bus. So sleepbus Family, if you were ever going to get involved now is the time.
We have set ourselves a launch date. We have media wanting to run our story. Its time.
If you believe in what we’re doing; if you want to do something about people sleeping on the street this winter; if you want to be a part of sleepbus history as a founding donor of the very first bus that starts it all.
Raise Money Now.
Speak to people Now.
Every bit will help. Every cent will go to buying, building & operating the first bus.
100% Model. You will be able to find your name on the first bus, plus your name and generous donation will be forever immortalised in sleepbus history and we look forward to meeting you all at our sleepbus launch. Come on sleepbus family, lets make this happen.