Vinnies to build new hostel for homeless

THE manager of a Nowra homeless shelter hopes that a new 19-bed facility will help to address the area’s chronic lack of beds for homeless men.

“We’ve been turning away between 40-50 men a month for the last 10 years,” said John Purcell House manager Steve Sweeney.

“We’re full – pure and simple.”

The St Vincent de Paul Society recently put the new facility out to tender, and closed down the existing building, on the corner of Lawrence Avenue and Plunkett Street, ahead of demolition.

Six residents have been moved to a nearby three-bedroom cottage, along with administrative staff.

Tenders will be accepted for three more weeks, and a choice will be made three weeks after that. Mr Sweeney hopes the first stage – the demolition of the existing building – will be complete by Christmas, and the new building finished by late next year.

The society has expressed a preference for local sub-contractors.

The new facility will have 11 crisis, six temporary and two long term beds. It will also include an education room.

PROBLEMS with alcohol abuse are exacerbated in the Shoalhaven due to high unemployment levels, said a Nowra welfare leader.

Major Gary Craig of the Salvation Army in Nowra said while alcohol related social problems were a major national issue, our area was probably suffering more due to higher jobless rates.

“Jobs are hard to find here,” Major Craig said. 

“If people lose their job it becomes a self-esteem issue for both men and women.

“They go from being able to support themselves to being on a low income and they feel like they’re failing their families. This sense of failure translates into ‘how can I get rid of the pain?’

“It has significant issues for the next generation of kids because we run into a bunch of kids who have terrible trouble with anger – but they don’t know why. 

“They’ve always lived with the physical effects (of anger) in their bodies. Their faces show it,” said Major Craig.

According to a survey commissioned by the Salvation Army, nearly a quarter of Australians are aware of a household in which children are being neglected due to alcohol abuse.

The survey polled just over 1400 people randomly all over Australia and also revealed that 14 per cent of people had seen family problems as a direct result of alcohol use.

The Salvation Army’s clinical director of recovery services, Gerard Byrne, said that the problem needed to be addressed urgently.

“It is clear that there are large numbers of people who know families where children aren’t being cared for properly.”

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg is a leading child and adolescent psychologist. He warned that children raised in families with alcohol issues had low self-esteem, behavioural issues and difficulty maintaining relationships.

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