The subject of Homelessness

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The aim of the Rotary District 9800 Homelessness Forum was to understand what clubs are currently doing in relation to homelessness. Many like us haven't done a great deal on this issue, at least in recent times, and were there to listen. It would take too long to list all of the things that are being done by active clubs, and below are some of my observations.
  • Mentoring came up in many presentations. Mentoring is the term that people use but really it is just engaging with people for a regular meal or activity.
  • Consistent engagement was another theme. It was noted that within the official agencies people may work on a program for 6-18 months and then change to a new role. Or they only have funding for a pilot program lasting for a short time. This presents a real problem for young people who have not had access to stable long term relational support. They do not trust easily, they have seen parents and relatives, case workers etc. come and go, or they have been shunted from one institution or department to another. What they really crave is ongoing, consistent, reliable support. Someone who turns up when they say they will.
  • DIK, Eastern Emergency Relief and Western Emergency Relief all received consistent mentions and are extremely valuable.
  • Underutilised facilities were mentioned - canteens, sports facilities with showers and kitchens etc. that could be used for a weekly drop in, clean up and a meal.
  • A number of clubs put together packs:  
    • Hygiene relief packs: e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, comb, nail clippers, face washer etc.
    • Cleaning packs: dishcloth, washing up detergent, brush, toilet cleaner, bucket, etc. for people who move into a place but can't afford the basic things they will need just to keep it clean.
    • Household packs: Cleaning pack plus, basic kitchen utensils, towel, non perishable food items.
  • Bond and 1st month's rent - you may be able to cover the rent but how do you save enough to get in to longer term accommodation in the first place.
  • Ongoing funding - many organisations that work in this space do not have long term funding beyond one year.
  • Bread - a number of clubs collected bread from Bakers Delight / Brumbies and delivered it to a program or an organisation providing meals.
So there was much to think about, and to be honest none of the people attending had a complete solution.
Those that were doing most were working with established organisations and service providers rather than starting out with a brand new program on their own.

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