Last week (Thursday, 3 July 2014), IAG NZ CEO Jacki Johnson and seven of her senior team turned their attention to raising awareness of the problem of homelessness in Auckland by taking part in the annual Lifewise Big Sleepout.
Collectively known as the ‘Need To Know’ team, all nine members – which included Jacki, her husband Michael Johnson and colleagues Allan Dornan (IAG Chief Operating Officer), Craig Olsen (Executive General Manager for Direct Insurance), Karl Armstrong (NZI Executive General Manager), Dean MacGregor (Executive General Manager Canterbury Recovery), Nick Jones (Research and Insights Manager) Judith West (Executive General Manager People & Culture) and Dan Coman (Chief Financial Officer) – willingly parted ways with their creature comforts to sleep rough on the streets of downtown Auckland in less than balmy conditions.
Their efforts raised $25,536, which Lifewise General Manager Moira Lawler said is the highest amount donated of all the teams that took part in this year’s event. “We were blown away by the energy, enthusiasm and passion of the Need to Know Team,” Moira said. “The Big Sleepout is described by fundraisers as Lifewise’s ‘hero event’ because it takes a certain kind of person to put themselves out in the elements in front of their friends, family and colleagues, to ask for support to end homelessness.
“Lifewise has long benefitted from strong support from Jacki Johnson and Nick Jones, but it was great to meet the rest of the leadership team and expose them to our work and the elements. The relationship with IAG is one we value as you lend us support physically and intellectually –what a great team!”
All funds generated by the Big Sleepout support Lifewise’s work to end homelessness. This year, the charity’s focus is on youth homelessness, which Moira says is a growing problem in Auckland. Lifewise takes a ‘no band aid’ approach and works to connect people with housing, income and the community and help young people to develop into connected, resilient adults. Also at the top of the charity’s agenda is looking at ways it can improve outcomes for 17-year-olds after they leave State care and how it can influence policy.
Speaking about her experience of the Big Sleepout, Jacki Johnson said each member of the Need To Know team personally showed their commitment to supporting the event. “Lifewise is an organisation that is trying to address complex social issues such as homelessness,” Jacki said. “As insurers, we must face up to the fact that when people are marginalised, the risk within a society for those individuals and community increase.
“We decided to help out by sleeping rough for one night. It has helped raise our personal awareness of these issues. Thank you to everyone out there who supported us.”
To find out more about the Lifewise Big Sleepout, visit http://www.bigsleepout.org.nz/.