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Recognising the hidden homeless

(L-R) Lynne Deans, customer service manager Tweed Heads Bowls Club, Fred’s Place co-manager Anthony Moerman, and Linda Williams, St Vincent de Paul Society’s special works manager. Photo supplied.

Every wondered what it would be like to be homeless?

Launching the annual community sleep-out to support St Vincent de Paul Society’s drop-in service at Fred’s Place in Tweed Heads on Tuesday 26 June there will be a display with a simulated camp that will be made up of typical kinds of shelter that homeless people use. Set up in the parkland at the rear of Seagulls Club, Gollan Drive, Tweed Heads West there will be large cardboard boxes, small tents, tarps and sleeping bags, old couches, and the back of cars – typical shelters that the homeless use.

‘While many people are sleeping rough in parks, beach dunes and other public places, hidden homelessness is an even larger problem,’ said St Vincent de Paul’s North Coast Executive Officer, Michael Timbrell.

August is fundraising month for Fred’s Place, which receives no government support and relies on funding from the Society and community donations, including pledges for volunteers who will be sleeping out on August 30.

‘In this area alone, hundreds of people are couch surfing, often in overcrowded households, sleeping in their cars or paying rents they can ill afford in caravan parks and boarding houses,’ said Mr Timbrell.

‘The levels of poverty and homelessness on the North Coast are the highest in NSW, and the challenges are particularly acute now that the colder weather is upon us. We’re running the Vinnies Winter Appeal right across the North Coast, but the local focus of this special fundraising is Fred’s Place in Tweed Heads.’

Fred’s Place is the only homeless drop-in service in the Tweed Shire, providing bathroom and laundry access, meals, and a range of other essential supports.

The August 30 sleep-out venue is being provided by Seagulls Club, one of the Tweed Clubs group that last year committed to ongoing sponsorship. Other local businesses and individuals are being approached for their support.

‘I encourage anyone concerned about this issue to join us, whether for a few hours or overnight, and to invite sponsorship from family and friends. You can also make an online donation,’ Mr Timbrell said.

For information about the Fred’s Place sleep-out or to make a tax-deductible donation go to www.fredsplacecommunitysleepout.org.au


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