Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Support for people most at risk

The global health crisis continues to have a devastating impact on people living on the streets and in places where they are not safe.

Many people turning to services for help already have pre-existing health conditions and do not have a home or shelter to self-isolate to, or support networks to fall back on. In this climate of fear and uncertainty (and falling temperatures), people who are already struggling are most at risk – people who are isolated, the elderly, those living with a mental illness, facing domestic violence or experiencing homelessness.

Frontline community workers in South Sydney, including representatives from Counterpoint Community Services, SDN Children’s Services, Barnardos and the Story Factory, have been meeting fortnightly to share observations and develop support strategies.

Coordinated by Inner Sydney Voice, recent meetings have acknowledged the good work of OzHarvest (providing 6,500 meals per week) and Colombo Social (providing food and mobile food vans in the city), as well as the role being played by the City of Sydney.

The City is part of the Sydney Rough Sleeping Covid-19 Taskforce, which brings together the Department of Communities and Justice, health services and the homelessness sector.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore says: “Our homelessness unit is continuing to operate seven days a week, providing daily support to people sleeping rough and linking them with essential support services.

“The City and the homelessness sector remain focused on ensuring people sleeping rough are able to access accommodation, and those experiencing food insecurity have nutritious food. The City’s $1 million donation to OzHarvest is helping with this.”

Since April 1, more than 1,000 rough sleepers have been helped into accommodation across NSW. About half of them are in metropolitan Sydney.

On March 27, the NSW government announced a $34 million package of supports to prevent homelessness. The package included $14.3 million to increase the supply and flexibility of temporary accommodation across the state, including accommodation, such as hotels and motels, suitable for self-isolation.

An additional $20 million has been committed to accelerate pathways for existing clients and priority social housing applicants to secure stable housing in the private rental market. This includes: 500 Rent Choice packages; more than 350 Start Safely packages dedicated to women and children escaping domestic and family violence; more than 140 Rent Choice Youth packages for young people.

Meanwhile, Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross is delivering its own “love and care” packages to people most in need.

Wayside Chapel has more than 50 years’ experience supporting the most marginalised. During this crisis, it has mobilised a new Community Outreach team to deliver emergency food, care packs and love to people sleeping rough on the streets, as well as driving to people who are housebound.

A Wayside spokesperson says: “We meet people at their front doors or driveways, far enough to follow distancing guidelines but close enough to look someone in the eye through the fly-screen door and share a much-needed moment of connection.

“Now, more than ever, we must do whatever we can to support people who are struggling in our community.”


Donate to Wayside’s Care Pack program:

City of Sydney Emergency Contact: 9265 9333.
Link2Home (crisis accommodation referrals): 1800 152 152.








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