The Byron Community Centre (BCC) has reported an increase in people asking for help at its outreach services, as the economic impacts of COVID-19 continue to be felt across the Shire.
With the country to mark Homelessness Awareness Week from August 3, community worker Ianna Murphy said there was a particular need to acknowledge those without a fixed address this year.
‘During COVID the isolation of homelessness was depressingly obvious to me as a
community worker on the ground,’ Ms Murphy said.
‘The usually overcrowded and bustling streets of Byron were left deserted, and although a refreshing change for locals, those members of our community with nowhere else to go were left out to stand out.
Byron Community Centre community workers report that while some requirements for obtaining temporary community housing have eased, that the overall number of homeless people has increased.
‘The easing of some requirements that are necessary to obtain temporary accommodation such proof of identity – which many homeless people do not have owing to lack of security – allowed for more of our homeless population to access this service’, Ms Murphy said.
‘Many of our long-term rough sleepers in the Shire have accessed this service, and have, or are in the process, of moving forward with community housing options.
‘However, homelessness has not reduced during COVID-19, and we are still seeing the same numbers, if not more.’
While Byron has both a long-term rough sleeping demographic, it also has a large transient homeless population, which has appeared to remain prominent during COVID-19.
The Centre said the movement of some people was related to the closure of many services, owing to COVID restrictions and safety of volunteers.
‘I hope the new normal is support and feeling… being seen and heard,’ Ms Murphy said.
‘I hope it is the community realising that given just a slight change in circumstances, and it could be anyone. It’s 2020, we need to be doing better.’
As part of Homelessness Awareness Week between August 3–7, the Byron Community Centre will be holding a COVID-19-safe homelessness connect afternoon at the Byron Community Cabin on Wednesday August 5 from 12.30pm onwards.
All community members are welcome to attend and enjoy a free BBQ.
Byron Community Centre Homelessness Services
Homeless Breakfast, Wednesday, 7.30AM – 9:00AM
Homeless Showers, Monday & Wednesday, 10:00AM- 12.30PM (Book in at Fletcher St
Kitchen by 8.00am)
Severe Weather Shelter signs at Byron Community Centre on days open with instructions.
Liberation Larder meals, Monday & Thursday, 7.00AM – 9.30AM & 12PM – 1.30PM