2018 Homelessness Week: support in the Hastings for those who need help

Doing it tough: There is help available for homeless and disadvantaged people. Photo: stock
Doing it tough: There is help available for homeless and disadvantaged people. Photo: stock

EVERY night in Australia up to 116,000 people fall asleep lonely, without necessities and without a place to call home.

Homelessness Week, running from August 6 to 12, aims to raise awareness across Australia about homelessness and the support options available to people needing assistance.

On the Mid North Coast homelessness is an issue more prevalent than people assume, with Port Macquarie not-for-profit organisation New Horizons providing support for more than 2,500 people in need of accommodation in just 12 months. 

Among the local events being held in the Port Macquarie area is the Ending Homelessness Together event,  on Thursday August 9, from 11am to 3pm, at Town Green, Port Macquarie. 

New Horizons CEO Judi Higgin said homelessness has increased around 14 per cent nationally over the past five years.

“It’s a really important issue to discuss. We see people at risk of homelessness for a number of reasons,” she said. 

“In Port Macquarie, almost a third (31 per cent) of people coming to us do so because of financial stress or affordability issues. A further 21 per cent are living in temporary accommodation.”

She said it is important they are aware support is available.

“We provide a range of services including advocacy, life skills programs, tenancy support, referrals to financial counselling and budgeting,” she said.

“As well as negotiations and referrals to specialist support services such as domestic violence and mental health support.”

New Horizons has a number of successful programs across the state, such as the Supporting and Securing Tenancies program for people experiencing homelessness.

They will be driving an awareness campaign during Homeless Person’s Week, providing information and resources for the community and for those doing it tough.

Another wonderful service for the homeless is Orange Sky Laundry. The organisation offer the homeless free laundry, showers and conversations.

The laundry van - named Maddy – is the 17th of its kind in Orange Sky’s national fleet, with three shower vans also on the road. It was launched in Port Macquarie in October, 2017.

It was made possible by the fundraising efforts of local organisation, Make a Difference Port Macquarie.

Orange Sky is running eight services per week across Port Macquarie-Hastings are and has been well received by homeless and disadvantaged people over the past 10 months. 

On average they do 25 washes per week and to date ‘Maddy’ has provided a total of 816 washes and 1378 hours of conversation across 225 shifts.

They currently have 50 volunteers who ensure those who use the service can count on them each and every shift.

The service also won a 2018 Hastings Business Award for their work in the social services area.