Rain, hail or shine, life is unrelentingly difficult for people who are sleeping rough.

I’ve worked in this sector for many years but I still find some of the stories from our Missionbeat frontline staff truly heartbreaking. They meet people every day who are homeless and face severe hardship from challenging and complex personal circumstances. Added to the mix, they’re also living a transient life in harsh, uncomfortable and potentially unsafe environments.

It is no secret that the lack of affordable housing is one of the major reasons there are so many people who do not have a safe place to call home. We will continue to advocate for more housing, including social housing, for people on low and moderate incomes. We also want the number of lower income Australians living in rental stress to be halved.

But I know a lot of people ask me what can they do to help people who are sleeping rough? How can they, as individuals, make a difference? What is appropriate? What is not?

I always say to people – do what you find fitting. Some like to give directly to organisations like ours so that when they see people sleeping rough they know they are helping them in some way. Others might like to stop for a chat or offer a coffee or a sandwich. It can be a lonely existence on the street so a kind word or gesture can mean a lot.

Right now, Sydneysiders can make a direct impact by donating blankets to our Missionbeat service to help keep people safe and comfortable throughout the warmer months.

After a cold, wet winter our stocks are low and despite the weather getting warmer we are still much in need of this simple provision.

A blanket can be a vital item for a homeless person in every season, including spring and summer. It can define their own space, sets parameters for their safety and can soften a park bench or cold concrete surface. Even as the weather warms, a blanket can protect someone from the elements and offer a thin veil of privacy from onlookers.

Of course, a blanket is a stop gap while Mission Australia and other services continue our work in supporting people with the longer term actions required to help them permanently exit homelessness.

All people who are homeless deserve to be treated with dignity and donating a few blankets is one easy way that the community can support people in need. A blanket might not solve homelessness, but it can make a short term difference to someone who lives on our streets.

Drop your blanket at the Missionbeat office, 24/168 Victoria Road Marrickville, open 7 days a week between 7.00 am and 10.30 pm.
Catherine Yeomans

 

Catherine Yeomans
CEO Mission Australia
@cathyeomans

 

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Purpose - 'Inspired by Jesus Christ, Mission Australia exists to meet human need and to spread the knowledge of the love of God'