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Byron Shire
September 25, 2023

A glimmer of hope for Fletcher Street Cottage

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Urgently needed community support is starting to flow for the Fletcher Street Cottage homelessness service, but management says much more is needed to prevent cuts to its operations.

Last week The Echo reported that, without any ongoing government funding, and with community support dwindling, the service is struggling to keep up with demand.

A local user of the Fletcher Street Cottage homelessness service in Byron Bay. Image supplied

The Cottage, which comes under the auspices of the Byron Community Centre, has put out a call for community support, saying that without it they will be forced to cut vital services.

In response, local op shop Global Ripple has stepped up, announcing that they will donate all of their proceeds from the entire month of August to the Cottage.

‘We want to encourage those who have unwanted items to get them into Global Ripple op shop ASAP to help save Fletcher Street,’ Global Ripple’s founder, Jacqui Boyette said.

‘The service does such great work in the community with our homeless and rough sleepers.’

Donations from the community are also beginning to flow, with one anonymous local giving $10,000.

Two local users of the Fletcher Street Cottage homelessness service. Image supplied

‘It’s been great to see the community get behind Fletcher Street,’ the General Manager of the Community Centre, Louise O’Connell said.

‘But we’ve still got a long way to go.’

‘We’re asking for $350,000 to help get us through the next few months while we agitate to the government to provide some funding.’

While Byron has the highest number of rough sleepers of any local government area in the state, the Fletcher Street Cottage does not receive any state or federal government funding.

‘Currently, we’re not eligible for any funding for our staff,’ Ms O’Connell said.

‘It costs $1 million a year to run Fletcher Street, so we’re asking the government for five years’ worth of funding to provide some security for staff and for all of the people we’re helping.’

Ms O’Connell said demand for the service had increased significantly in recent weeks, with more families coming to the community breakfast or using the shower and laundry facilities.

The centre has set up a special women’s breakfast table for those who want to eat with other women. Children are also welcomed at this table.

To donate, or support Fletcher Street Cottage, visit www.fletcherstreetcottage.com.au.

Those wanting to make a larger donation are invited to contact Kate Love on 0448 141 490 or [email protected].

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  1. There is a small fortune in revenue that is being forgone each day that could be going to genuine homelessness as well as developing holistic solutions.
    Nightly there would be thousands in revenue from vans, motor homes and vehicles that are not paying to stay. Main Beach if a morning has people cooking breakfast and having g a surf after a night free. A month ago a van was washing his vehicle with a step ladder using Council water and then soaps and all going into the sea. Others renovate their vehicles adjacent Nature Reserves and there are no consequences so more people are attracted to the region to free stay. Digital nomads have kitted out vehicles so they are doing the same.
    Yes we have a serious homeless issue yet a fortune of revenue is being lost when it could be redirected to those in need.
    Yes we have genuine homelessness however we also have an issue that hasn’t been properly addressed for years which is that people can get away with parking up and not paying for a caravan park or ammenities. This is forgone revenue as well as occupying car spots during the day in prime spots that should be available for residents, visitors or business.
    There is no after hours call out number and Police are too busy. The figures quoted on homelessness are also muddied with visitors that are not paying to stay days or nights.
    This has the net effect of also discouraging “ good visitation” ie families and people that are happy to pay yet want to get a car space and will happily pay for it.


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