Nowra is a prime example of how the theme for Homeless Week should work.
The theme for Homeless Week Homeless Week (August 7 to August 13) is ‘action and innovation’ which is the approach taken to fix the local homeless problem with the Safe Shelter Shoalhaven plan.
Led by local churches and manned by an impressive team of volunteers the safe shelter plan has been getting people off the streets and into a warm and safe place to stay this winter.
Between four to five people head to the shelter each night where they get a bed, food, warmth and kindness.
Homeless man Bob (real name withheld) regularly receives support at the shelter and would love to see the plan continued.
Bob was living in his car, until he heard about the safe shelter plan, this winter.
Bob had to run his car for 15 minutes every hour just to keep warm at night.
He has now been staying at the shelter and is so grateful.
“Thank you for the safe shelter and now I have somewhere warm to stay and have a hot meal,” he said.
“It’s so nice to be able to lay horizontal, rather than sleep sitting up in my car. I am blown away by the generosity that something like this would be offered - thank you.”
Homeless Week aims to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness and the issues these people face.
Local volunteer Ash Hudson said safe shelter plan worked well.
“People are still keen to help and we get a few more new volunteers coming in each week even now,” Mrs Hudson said.
They have 220 volunteers on their books and local 21 churches are now involved.
People are also still dropping food in to the shelter and Meg Dover from Salt Ministries said Safe Shelter Shoalhaven Plan was a true community program.
“People are still really interested in supporting and helping it - as can been seen by that really generous donation that was made recently,” Mrs Dover said.
On the eve of homeless week the Shoalhaven was stunned when a family donated $400 000 to the cause.
“Now we have been given money that will help purchase something which we need to buy outright and we also need to have to funds to be able to run something as an ongoing capacity,” Mrs Dover said.
Mrs Hudson said the volunteers are all asking - what is going to happen next?
“All the volunteers are keen to continue,” she said.
“You can shut it but there will still be homeless people.”
Mrs Dover said discussions are going on regarding how to continue the safe shelter plan.
More volunteers are needed to do the 10pm to 8am shift.
To become a volunteer call 0478 219 880 or head to the group’s Facebook site - Safe Shelter Shoalhaven.
What is homeless week
Homelessness Week is an annual week coordinated by Homelessness Australia (HA). It is used to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness and the issues these people face. It is held in the first full week of August each year.
Homelessness Week came about from various churches and missions running winter vigils to remember people who had died on the streets. These vigils were normally held in August as it is the coldest time of the year and when most people were likely to be overcome by the elements. Over the years, more churches became involved and in 2007 Homelessness Australia (then the Australian Federations of Housing Organisations AFHO) began coordinating it as a national awareness week.
Homelessness Australia does not currently hold events during Homelessness Week, but a representative does participate in the national launch. Homelessness Australia coordinates the week by developing a campaign theme, producing information sheets and resources which are made publicly available to organisations who run events. Homelessness Australia also advertises and promotes events being held all over Australia.