If you’ve been finding the recent big wet challenging, spare a thought for those sleeping rough.
For more than two weeks, scores of local homeless people have been struggling to find dry, safe places to sleep, or suffering through cold and very uncomfortable nights.
Thankfully, the Byron Community Centre (BCC) and two local churches have been operating wet-weather shelters for men and women for much of the past three weeks.
The shelters have already provided accommodation for 45 people, across 11 nights, including 10 nights in a row earlier this month.
‘I’d be getting pretty wet sleeping on the street,’ local homeless man Simon Warner said.
‘As long as we’re here, we are alright. The staff are really good, give us a hot meal, and a coffee and a chat in the morning’.
However, there has been so much demand for the shelter recently that funding is fast running out.
There is no recurrent funding for the service, which was made possible by small one-off grants secured from the Northern Rivers Community Foundation, Westpac, Harcourts, Byron Shire Council, and from generous donations from Global Ripple op-shop and Cunning Stunts.
It has enough funding to run another 16 nights of a mixed-gender shelter, or eight nights of shelter where the genders are separate.
‘For the centre to keep offering the shelter, we will need to access either ongoing funding, or donations from the community,’ the General Manager of the Centre, Louise O’Connell, said.
Elyssa Purdie, the Homeless Projects Worker at the BCC, said running the shelter required a lot of organisation each night.
‘Confirming security guard services, qualified overnight crisis workers, cleaners, volunteers, food and other consumables, clean laundry, managing keys, monitoring behaviour, and of course, keeping an eye on the weather on a daily basis takes an enormous amount of time and resources.
‘Predicting the weather is sometimes the most stressful element.
‘A decision about whether the weather shelter will operate is made at 6am each day.
‘People can then register at BCC 10am to 4pm normal working days. Outside these hours there will be a notice at the front and rear of the BCC building advising how to register’.