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What started your journey to help fight homelessness?

I grew up in New Zealand, and there was no homelessness so I never saw a rough sleeper. I then moved to Edinburgh in the late 90s, and started seeing rough sleepers. What got to me was the number of rough sleepers lined up along a road where the temperature was below freezing for numerous nights, and I just thought these people were actually going to die. That feeling of in-justice has never left me.

How do you use storytelling in your day to day life through CEO sleepout?

Quite often at a CEO sleepout event we will have someone who has lived through a homeless experience talk. Throughout 2018 I had a trans woman called Jeanna who was working as a data analyst, a successful, well spoken lady, tell her harrowing story. She came to a number of events because her story was so powerful. Another speaker who came to the London event was Dr. Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, and when she got up to speak everyone's jaws dropped because she was homeless for two years between the ages of 16 and 18. She talked about the hunger and shame when people would throw their lunches in the bin and she would take the food, she spoke about how people would mutter disgusting words towards her while she was doing it.

How else can we help to end homelessness?

Don’t accept homeless as any kind of normal, as we now know it can be solved. What we are trying to do is to change the motivation of solving it. We probably can't solve it but we can change the motivation and put pressure on, and advocate for, a better kind of society. When people talk about the New-Normal in the context of COVID - what was normal about the old? About having 210,000 children registered homeless in the UK and living in unfit accommodation? What's normal about that?

Humans are inherently cooperative and will form a cooperative and kind society given the right encouragement, motivation and parameters. The downside of that is we do things to please and fit into a group, and that tribal thinking can lead us to do bad things, but as a whole we want to be part of a collective group that can help each other.

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