✦ The Port Macquarie Hastings-Homelessness Committee is made up of over 20 Community service Organisations that are working together to help overcome ever growing homelessness rates in Port Macquarie and surrounding suburbs.
With ever increasing housing shortages and homelessness numbers on the rise, the Committee has an end goal of creating a hub where people experiencing homelessness can come and speak to different services, have a shower, wash and dry clothes, speak to a counsellor or just take refuge for the day in a safe space.
During Homelessness Week the Committee are working hard to bring attention to the plight of the people they work with as well as getting around to as many areas as possible in a "Travelling Roadshow” to feed, clothe, give haircuts, tests and more.
In Australia there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night. Homelessness Week aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness on Australia via national and local community events, including providing information on the importance of housing as a solution and educating communities on how they can make a difference.
Homelessness Week, click here
Port Macquarie Hastings Homelessness Awareness group are calling for people to donate gift cards to help the less fortunate members of our community
“Last year, when we came up with this concept, we were thinking about what we could give, that gave control back to the person as risk," says committee member Lisa Willows. "We can feed people and give them clothes, but what can we give that gives them control?
"The response when we gave the gift cards out at last years roadshow was unexpected. We had mothers and daughters crying – my heart nearly broke when one child ask their mother if they could go to K-Mart that afternoon with a $10 gift card, something we all just take for granted. There were tears from most people as they didn’t expect them.”
The collected gift cards are distributed to rough sleepers and people currently without a home during Homelessness Week which runs from August 1st to 7th.
New Horizons case worker Tracey Rogerson said gift cards will allow the recipient more control over their purchase.
"We received amazing generosity last year with the community donating all sorts of gift cards. Coffee vouchers, charcoal chicken vouchers, Woolworths Gift Cards and Coles as well," she said.
"Many services utilise gift cards as part of their welfare processes, and it has been evidenced that this allows for choice and control for the person receiving the gift card as well as flexibility in what can be purchased and provided."
The gift cards will be used to source items for people that aren't readily available through other avenues that provide welfare services.
"These items include mobile phones, credit, chargers, medication, fuel, food, clothing, household items, education or items for children and any item that may assist a person to minimise the impact of the situation they are in," Tracey explained.
"Disadvantaged people are not just the people that are sleeping rough or couch surfing but also people and families that are struggling to pay rent as well as buy essential items and a gift card might fill the shortfall."
From now until August 1st, locals are being encouraged to purchase a gift card and drop it off at one of the participating organisations
"The community has been generous in the past and not only during Homelessness Week, but all year round," Tracey added.
The impacts of the current housing crisis has meant more people are at risk of becoming homeless.
"Homelessness can affect anyone no matter of age, gender or income as has been evidenced during the current rental crisis that is impacting the local community at present.
"This incentive allows for the stigma and portrayed image of homelessness to be seen for what it is in the current environment we find ourselves in.
"Every little amount and item can make a huge difference to someone who finds themselves in need of some assistance whether its due to homelessness, financial shortfalls, relationship or family breakdowns."