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Byron Shire
December 3, 2022

Vollies needed for homelessness services

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Byron Community Centre (BCC) has issued an urgent callout for volunteers to help support the hundreds of local people who make use of the homelessness services at Fletcher Street Cottage.

With World Homelessness Day on October 10 refocusing attention on the Byron Shire’s serious housing challenges, the BCC said there was a need for volunteers across a range of roles at the Byron Bay-based service.

The service does not receive any ongoing government funding.

These included being part of the breakfast team, helping to run the shower and laundry services, and assisting staff to create a welcoming atmosphere for those arriving at the service.

Thousands of visitors to the cottage

‘Since opening in April, we’ve had thousands of visitors to the cottage,’ BCC’s homelessness projects manager, Jenny Ryan, said.

‘We are definitely welcoming locals to come and volunteer with us or donate to our cause.

‘Whether you’re giving time or money, getting involved means you’re providing a critical contribution to the service.’

Over the course of 119 service days, Fletcher Street Cottage has had 3,261 visits from people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.

This includes providing emergency relief to more than 440 people, and providing 779 support appointments and referrals.

Nearly 3,500 breakfasts have been served up to hungry locals and more than 1,000 showers have been provided.

Key to delivering these services has been the 3,653 hours of volunteer work from members of the local community, which the Centre estimates to be valued at nearly $110,000.

‘It takes a village,’ breakfast volunteer Stacy said.

Great team

‘It’s a great team of people here and I really enjoy helping out.’

Another volunteer, David, said the volunteers benefited from the work they were doing.

‘It makes you feel good to give back to the community,’ he said.

Tip of the iceberg

Ms Ryan said that while the shire’s rough sleepers were the most visible sign of homelessness this was just the tip of the iceberg.

‘Hidden homelessness makes up the majority,’ she said. ‘It’s people sleeping in cars, couch surfing, moving between family members, staying in temporary types of accommodation.’

Those wanting to help out can register their interest by completing a volunteer application form at www.byroncentre.com.au.

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    It takes a community on all levels to function in the most dis-functional of times. Structural homelessness will remain a constant struggle as communities undergo massive challenges eg. Climate Change, Floods, an economy that favours Air B and B over housing and inward looking politicians dedicated to the dictates of Capitalism. May you all maintain strength. Blessings.


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