In 2007, a growing number of churches were participating in winter vigils for people who had died on the streets. This act of solidarity during freezing August temperatures inspired Homelessness Australia to establish an annual Homelessness Week.
This year the event took place in August 4-10, and while this year’s theme ‘Housing Ends Homelessness’, may seem obvious, the statistics suggest otherwise.
Australia is one of the most prosperous nations on earth, and yet our homelessness rate continues to rise. In South Australia, this rate has risen 8% since 2006.
Clearly, something needs to be done differently.
Last year, Baptist Care SA was one of 43 Adelaide Zero Project partners who participated with the Don Dunstan Foundation in Adelaide’s first Connections Week. In a massive collaborative effort, 280 workers and volunteers walked the streets, learning the names of people sleeping rough, and getting to know their needs.
This approach means that we’re capturing better homelessness data than ever before and are better positioned to assist people. Since last year’s event, 183 rough sleepers have been housed
But there is still much to be done. This year’s Connections Week found 227 people were sleeping rough in Adelaide’s inner city, and of these;
In response to growing food insecurity in Adelaide, Baptist Care SA established the first Community Food Hub in the CBD, providing a dignified way for people to access affordable groceries for themselves and their families. In addition, through our WestCare Centre, 35,000 nutritious meals, including continental breakfasts and three course lunches, were served last financial year.
Through our Urban Education Options (UEO), we are educating our future leaders about homelessness. Almost two thousand high school students completed UEO last financial year.
We can all work together to combat this terrible situation and assist our City to achieve functional zero homelessness in Adelaide.
You can take the time to share #AdelaideZeroProject and #FunctionalZero on social media. To find out more about the Adelaide Zero Project, visit https://dunstan.org.au/adelaide-zero-project/
To call on the government for more social and affordable housing, you can connect with the ‘Everybody’s Home’ campaign at www.everybodyshome.com.au on Twitter @_everybodyshome and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EverybodysHomeCampaign.
You can also join the ‘Raise the Rate’ campaign (www.raisetherate.org.au) which calls on the government to lift the rate of Newstart, Youth Allowance and other related payments.
If you have seen someone experiencing homelessness in Adelaide you can use the ‘Street Connect’ website to drop a pin on their location. This notifies Street to Home (a specialist homelessness service) who will visit and offer support. www.streetconnect.sa.gov.au
Donations of tinned food are always in great need for our Emergency Relief Program, particularly tinned fish, veg, baked beans and fruit. (Remember to purchase the tins with ring-pulls, as many people doing it tough, don’t have tin-openers). Donations can be delivered to our Inner City site at 11-13 Millers Court, Adelaide.
To help us provide vital support to people experiencing homelessness at our WestCare Centre (which receives no government funding), click here to donate.
Together, we can help transform lives.