Serving with the SVDP Night Patrol – The Effect of Community Service on our Company
Joseph Sattout writes… The nightlife on the streets of Sydney City – a place where I used to associate fun, happy and enjoyable experiences, a place where I would walk the streets and feel safe, a place where I was only ever a visitor.
In hindsight… the naivety.
On the night of Friday 13th November 2015, the Excite team and I embarked on a new journey outside our usual realms of technology. We directed ourselves to the doors of Vinnies ready to participate in their Night Patrol Program. The Night Patrol Program is an initiative purposed to reach out to those at risk or experiencing homelessness on the streets of Sydney.
Before this night, this experience, I held my own feelings and perceptions of poverty in Australia, and thought I knew what to expect – boy, was I in for a shock… Enter Josephine Charbel, our Vinnies liaison who conducted some training and prepared us for the night ahead with some hard-hitting home-truths right from the word GO!
‘It is not about the food, it is about building relationships’
‘It is not about us or how we feel, it is about those people with nowhere to stay, no-one to comfort them and no-one to support them’
‘It is not about how we feel, it is about talking to someone who has no-one to talk to, and you will literally be the first person they speak to today’
‘These people deserve for our firsts, not seconds’
‘These beautiful people out there, we call our friends not homeless’
….Perspective in check!
After our induction and mental preparation, the team prepared some gourmet sandwiches and loaded up the food truck ready for the night ahead. We all jumped in and headed for our first destination… Martin Place.
It was a cold and wet evening, the rain hammered against the truck window like the relentless drumming of nails leaving no piece of exposed pavement untouched, the wind fiercely and erratically blew cold air and rain everywhere. I could not fathom ‘how the heck these people survive on the streets under such conditions?’ …and worse, ‘what of the sick, elderly and children (yes children!)?’
The answer was that, these people are Survivors.
Most people are fortunate enough never to have to experience homelessness but for those who do, it can be a very traumatic experience. It is hard to escape from, damaging physical and emotional well-being along the way.
They continue to hope…
All the people that I met epitomised the word ‘Survivor’ as for most, the weather is the least of their worries. Their lives are at risks at all times – whether they are battling illness, targets of physical abuse and robbery, managing an addiction and living in fear of being raped and killed!
Despite all this they continue to smile… true Survivors.
As the night progressed, we befriended many of the beautiful people through the simple offering of time, attention and a sandwich. We got to hear their sad but inspirational stories, witnessed their talents first hand and really got to know each of them.
Of the many interactions, one stood out – Ivan, an elderly gentleman and I empathise the word gentlemen, who was polite and filled with positivity bursting at the seams. This man’s story, talents and general disposition in light of what he has faced and what he continues to face on a daily basis blew me away. Ivan is a poet who could recite and create poetry at will with a huge smile on his face.
What a talent, what an inspiration, and geez, what a human being. Survivor.
On the drive home, reflecting on the night past – Josephine’s words and outlook, proved to be absolutely right! This night was not about us, our feelings or even the food – It was purely about interaction with those less fortunate than us, and most importantly offering a hand of friendship and compassion to these beautiful people.
Excite are starting a Community Reach Program, that will empower our Employees, Clients and Partners to give back in some sort of capacity. If you would like to know more, and register your interest please contact Joseph on:
p:1300 147 369