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Byron Shire
April 11, 2021

Sleeping out for Fred’s Place

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Ready for the Fred’s Place community sleepout at Seagulls Jessica Peebles, Alysia Hopkins, Megan Claeys, Paula Vermunt and David Holmes. Photo supplied.

Homelessness affects hundreds of people of all ages in regional centres and rural areas, and can be fuelled by low incomes, welfare dependency, high rental costs, mental health issues and substance misuse.

Fred’s Place is a service located in Tweed Heads that offers a home and support services for people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. Each year the service runs Fred’s Place Sleepout, a community event to support to the centre in Boyd Street.

Funds received from sleepers, their supporters and community donors are used to run the only homeless drop-in service in Tweed Shire, now helping around 100 visitors each weekday.

Homelessness is an increasingly recognised social issue. A person who is ‘homeless’ can be sleeping outside in parks or other public spaces, couch surfing in crowded households, sleeping in a car or in low cost boarding houses and caravan parks.

Individuals and families who find themselves in need or who are experiencing homelessness are welcome to access Fred’s Place, a fully renovated home with three bathrooms, a large laundry, internet and telephone, television, staffed kitchen, inside and outside areas to socialise, storage and mailing facilities and provision of a dedicated and equipped room for Centrelink, Medicare, Counselling, Legal Assistance and Housing NSW.

All services are at no cost

Case management with outreach availability is also offered along with emergency accommodation. All services are at no cost. It is a modern facility with a lovely homely feeling. Fred’s Place also manages Angela House which consist of two two-bedroom villas and a four bedroom home; these are used for medium term accommodation at a nominal rent.

The venue for the sleepout is the grassland behind Seagulls Club, Tweed Heads West and everyone is invited to come along with their choice of bedding – a small tent, tarp, or in the back of their car – and sleep out for a good cause. Set-up for the event starts at 5.30pm.

Those not wanting to join the sleepers can sponsor family members, friends and work colleagues, or just make a one-off donation.

Fred’s Place coordinator Alysia Hopkins says Seagulls is one of the Tweed Coast Clubs who have sponsored the sleepout in recent years. ‘They’re right behind the event providing a secure area and a courtyard space for the camping, speeches and games,’ says Hopkins.

An experienced social worker, Ms Hopkins leads a team of mostly volunteer workers and university students undertaking professional placements at the centre.

Seagulls helps support Fred’s Place

‘Seagulls also helps support Fred’s Place through in-club fundraising from members as well as collection bins for donations of personal items, children’s toys and bedding items, she says.

‘We’ve had a great line-up of supporters in the past year, including IGA who’ve provided food for our breakfasts and snacks, as well as generous discounts, SAE Solar who installed a solar PV system free of charge, and Northernair who recently donated and installed air-conditioning for us.

‘This support is worth thousands of dollars and is really valuable as the number of people coming here who are homeless or at risk of homelessness has now reached 100 per day. That’s a lot of people to be fed, offered showers and laundry services, computer access for their Centrecare needs, and other essential support such as medical care and legal help, housing advice and so on.’

The sleep out is set for Thursday August 29. All information is available at the Fred’s Place Sleepout website.

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