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Rough sleeping study wins gold award

A study into rough sleeping in central Auckland has won a gold award in the Public Good category at the Designers Institute of New Zealand’s Best Awards 2015.

The annual Best Awards celebrate New Zealand’s best graphic, interactive, product and spatial design projects annually and included 514 finalists this year.

The winning study, “An insight into the experience of rough sleeping in central Auckland”, published in January this year, was an initiative of the Auckland Homelessness Steering Group made up of Auckland Council, Auckland City Mission and Lifewise Trust.

Auckland Council took an empathy research approach with rough sleepers, former rough sleepers, the public, retailers and some families of rough sleepers in order to gain deep insights into the experience. This collaborative team was mentored by service design agency ThinkPlace to visualise the experience of rough sleeping in a powerful and authentic way.

Councillor Cathy Casey, Chair of the Community Development and Safety Committee, said the study provided a huge step forward in understanding why people sleep rough and helped create meaningful change for people experiencing homelessness.

“Hearing from homeless people themselves and giving them a voice with this report has been the most important part of the project,” said Cr Casey.

“The steering group worked very hard on this public good study and our design partners at ThinkPlace understood the need to deliver a powerful visualisation at a low cost. This award proves we can do both.”

An Auckland City Mission count in October 2014 found 147 people sleeping rough within a 3km radius of the Sky Tower - up 116 per cent from a count of 68 in 2013.

Auckland City Missioner Diane Robertson says, “The significance of this award is it demonstrates we achieved what we set out to do, which was to provide an insight into the experience of sleeping rough for a wider audience. There are so many misconceptions about why people sleep rough. The report provided a means to communicate simply a complex and challenging issue, and in doing so hopefully increased Aucklanders understanding of and compassion for those sleeping rough.”

Moira Lawler of Lifewise Trust, which organises the Big Sleepout homelessness awareness event every year, says the award reflects a straightforward and clear approach to understanding a complex and often uncomfortable issue.

“This report is something that our rough sleepers take a lot of pride in – it shows that homelessness is not a choice and shows people the hard realities of having no place to call home at a glance. We’ve already seen our local community use the report to make meaningful changes for Auckland’s homeless,” she says. 

More information about the Rough Sleeping Report can be found here.

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