Shall we offer shelter to local homeless next winter?
While perhaps not quite so obvious as in the CBD of Melbourne, there are local people who do not have a place to call their own home, and steadily more and more.
They do the rounds of their friends, they couch-surf, they sleep in their cars, they stay in inappropriate housing, in caravan parks and sheds, they camp outside.
The Uniting Church Corner Inlet Parish and Manna Gum Community House in Foster are asking whether the local community would consider helping to offer warm and safe shelter and a hot meal to at least some of those without next winter.
The Parish and Manna Gum are hosting an information session in Foster with Australian volunteer organisation StableOne that provides guidance and resources to local churches to run Winter Night Shelters.
Corner Inlet community members are invited to hear StableOne founder Jenny Willetts talk about how local churches and volunteers can work together to make practical hospitality available to people experiencing homelessness.
The information session will be held at Manna Gum Community House, on the corner of Station Road and Court Street in Foster, on Thursday October 13, starting at 2.30 pm and finishing at about 4 pm. Light refreshments will be provided.
Frontier Services and Corner Inlet Parish Prom Country Bush Chaplain Rev. Veronica Bradley said StableOne has developed an effective model for churches to utilise their buildings as night-time venues during June, July and August each year.
“Parishioners and community-minded people are trained to work in teams to offer a place of safety, welcome, connection and support towards a more stable future, hence the name,” she said.
“StableOne guests are assessed for eligibility and are provided with dinner, a dormitory-style place to sleep, and breakfast.
“The other equally important aspect of StableOne is daytime support that can supply more opportunities for building relationships as well as providing referrals to other agencies, as well as access to shower and laundry facilities,” Veronica said.
“Winter Shelters can help to fill a critical need for accommodation but can also be more than just a place to stay.”
Veronica said StableOne was first established in the Yarra Valley and has since built up a network of shelters in Victoria, working alongside local councils and churches, social support and health services, and agencies such as HeadSpace and St Vincent de Paul.
“Some Winter Shelters operate for the full three months while others may only be able to open for a night or two each week, which is a lot better than nothing if you’re homeless,” she said.
“Certain conditions must be met by StableOne guests, who are screened before they are offered a place; for example, they can’t be using drugs or alcohol at the time.
“The Night Shelters are usually run by three shifts of volunteers; the first sets up the beds and prepares the evening meal, the second shift stays overnight with the guests, and the third serves breakfast and packs up the bedding in the morning,” Veronica said.
“We invite everyone with an interest in their community to come along to the Stable One information session at Manna Gum this Thursday afternoon, October 13 and to join the conversation about how we can help local people,” she said.
“We want to find out if the local community would like to support this kind of service and to what extent, as we’re hoping to have the Corner Inlet version of Winter Night Shelter up for next year.”
For more information about the StableOne Winter Night Shelter information session at Manna Gum Community House in Foster, contact Prom Country Bush Chaplain Rev. Veronica Bradley on 0402 522 442.