As the mercury begins to dip towards eight degrees, I begin to feel a small sensation of the fear those who are homeless would experience each night.
My small beanie keeps trying to fall off leaving my head with little protection from the cold, the sky is lit bright with a near full moon keeping me awake and my last minute cheap sleeping bag purchase is not providing the warmth I would normally feel at home.
Since relocating to Port Lincoln four months ago I have had some incredible opportunities to immerse myself and give my time to community events and groups.
The most unique opportunity by far was putting on the thermals and rolling out the swag for a night out without a roof over my head in the middle of winter.
While I have been camping many times before under the stars in my swag – this experience was something different.
It was a bitter cold and stark reality of what many Australians – including those on the Eyre Peninsula – face without a home.
I am not saying I felt what it was like to be homeless because no amount of experience could give me that feeling but I could at least feel a little empathy for the struggles homeless people must face.
The situations of homelessness on the Eyre Peninsula and the stories of how those people got there vary.
It might be a family breakdown, a troubled childhood, a constant cycle of couch surfing or the empty space of no one around to support you.
Fred’s Van is a special organisation that can easily put a smile back on these people’s faces.
I felt a glimpse of that joy when I ate soup from the Port Lincoln Hotel, which is also regularly donated to the Fred’s Van kitchen on Sunday nights.
On the night of the sleepout I met with Anna Hurrell who donates her food, her cooking and her time to the Port Lincoln Fred’s Van every couple of months.
I immediately discovered these volunteers do not just provide joy for those doing it tough with meals each Sunday, the joy is also in the volunteers. Mrs Hurrell and her daughter Dana volunteer because they receive joy by giving joy.
I feel extremely privileged I had the opportunity to sleep it rough for those doing it tough and would do it all over again to keep supporting locals who need it.
Journalist Casey Treloar