As she settled into another night in the Safe Shelter Shoalhaven facility a homeless woman (name withheld) looked relaxed and at ease with her surroundings.
She is loving the chance to stay in this newly opened facility run by many local churches and manned by volunteers.
“If it was not for this shelter I would be homeless and out in that park over there,” she said.
She had unsuccessfully been looking for other places to stay and the park or on the streets looked to be her only options but the team from the shelter welcomed in her with open arms.
“This (the shelter) is a blessing - it really is,” she said.
The shelter is just like staying in someone’s home as a guest.
“It’s really great and it’s also nice and warm,” she said.
“If you do need anything extra they have more things like pillows and blankets.
“They (the Safe Shelter Shoalhaven team) make you feel really comfortable.”
She said the volunteers went out of their way to make her feel at home.
The hot meals are also “enjoyed.”
“You can also go to the pantry and help yourself to anything,” she said.
“I say God bless them for making meals and wanting to help us.”
She said living on the streets or taking any other offer of a bed out of sheer desperation was just not safe.
The woman added when you were sick there was nothing worse than walking around the streets looking for shelter.
Her respiratory issue would have made living on the streets in winter even more painful.
A nurse was also coming in to see and help her.
“It’s really good that a nurse is coming to see me,” she said.
“This place is really safe.”
She said everyone, homeless people and volunteers, got along well in the shelter.
“There is no limit to the amount of time I can stay and so I won’t be thrown out in the cold,” she said.
“It all makes me feel safe and secure - instead of being scared.”
She said it was wrong of the community to look down on a homeless person.
The women said everyone had a right to feel safe and the shelter was not about giving handouts but giving people a hand up.
“Now I can look for other places to live and not just be worrying all the time,” she said.
Meanwhile, Safe Shelter Shoalhaven has now been opened for over a week and they have had up to nine guests each night.
It's been going great, but they are still in need of a few more things.
Tea, coffee, milk (long life), sugar and toilet paper are in constant demand.
You can drop off any of those items at the shelter at 134 Kinghorne Street, Nowra after 4pm or at Salt Care in Bomaderry 5-19 Birriley Street between 10am-2pm.
While you are dropping off some items why not see about becoming a volunteer as more are needed.
Related: Update after first night