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The challenge of homelessness

Craig Hexter from Bosch with Captain Doug Newman

21 Jul | 2014

A stark reality of being homeless is the need to find somewhere safe and warm to sleep every night.

Bosch Power Tool Division Country Sales Director Craig Hexter discovered this when he worked with Bosch in Victoria, Australia.

To raise awareness of homelessness, the company participates in the annual Vinnies Community Sleepout in Melbourne. Employees who take part donate to assist the fight against homelessness and Bosch matches these donations dollar for dollar.

‘I realised this involvement was an opportunity to do some rewarding community work,’ Craig says, ‘and when I moved to New Zealand, I wanted to continue helping homeless people.’

Craig coordinated a Bosch Community Sleepout In partnership with The Salvation Army in late June so people could experience what it is like to be homeless by sleeping ‘out’ for one night.

For safety reasons, DHL provided a secure location outside their Mangere warehouse with a security guard present. 

Participants brought their own sleeping bag and were given a piece of cardboard to sleep on. Bosch provided a cup of soup and some bread in the evening and a most welcome breakfast of bacon and eggs early next morning.

An aspect of homelessness Craig has come to understand is that people are homeless for different reasons, often through no fault of their own. Apart from poverty, the homeless may face obstacles such as mental illness, addiction, criminal histories, and childhood neglect and abuse.

‘It’s particularly distressing for me to see homeless women and children,’ Craig says. ‘The alarming price of housing in New Zealand and unaffordable rents are contributing to this.’

Epsom Lodge in Auckland—a Salvation Army hostel that provides accommodation, support and supervision to people who otherwise would be homeless—used the funds raised by the Bosch Community Sleepout to purchase new mattresses for clients.

‘Our aim is to provide a tangible benefit for those in need,’ Craig says. ‘We like the mission of The Salvation Army and their dedication to giving direct assistance to the homeless.’

Salvation Army National Operations Manager of Supportive Accommodation Captain Doug Newman says that with a limited income, Epsom Lodge previously relied on obtaining second-hand mattresses.

‘But we believe the people we support and care for deserve better than old and worn bedding,’ he says.

Supportive Accommodation clients are required to commit to changing their lives and actively work towards their goals.

To foster ready-to-work skills, Bosch Power Tool Division has donated power tools and accessories with a value of $10,000 for the Epsom Lodge workshop.

‘The model of care we use has a multi-disciplined approach to helping clients overcome their difficulties and prepare them for an independent life in the community,’ Doug says.

‘This much appreciated donation of power tools will encourage our clients to share their skills and talents.’

Raising funds for new furnishings and donating power tools is just the start of support from Bosch for Epsom Lodge.

‘We have an employee volunteer programme and plan to spend a day refurbishing their workshop and developing safe-handling instruction cards for using power tools,’ Craig says.

Image: Craig Hexter from Bosch with Captain Doug Newman at the Bosch Community Sleepout. Photography: Bruce Millar