For those who have no place to call home, being warm and safe is a luxury, something that most Canberrans take for granted. And with the recent rise of people on the streets, Safe Shelter ACT is offering overnight shelters seven nights a week during winter for men that have nowhere to sleep.
According to the Productivity Commission’s latest report on Government Services, 3,323 people reached out for help with accommodation in 2016-17, with nearly one-third (32.6 per cent) turned away.
For those who are turned away, sleeping rough on the street is their only option. Safe Shelter provides somewhere safe for these men while they try to sort out their lives. Providing basic emergency shelter in the cold months, like hot drinks and somewhere safe to sleep out of the cold, the not-for-profit organisation needs more volunteers to run its overnight shelters.
Though the shelter isn’t a permanent solution to homelessness, it will provide short-term emergency assistance to those who need it on that particular night.
A shelter in Canberra will operate each night, running from the 22nd of April to the 29th of September, using three donated inner-North church halls. Shelters are staffed by teams of trained volunteers, male or female, aged over 18.
All Saints Anglican Church in Ainslie will host men on Sunday and Monday nights, while on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights the St Columba’s Uniting Church in Braddon will provide a place for the disadvantaged. Friday and Saturday nights will be at the Salvation Army’s Canberra City Corps in Braddon, with the shelters operating from 7.00 pm to 7.00 am.
Last year, Safe Shelter offered five nights per week, with the increase in hours in 2018 making the need for volunteers vital. New volunteers interested in serving the community in this way are asked to attend one of the two-evening induction courses in March and April.
Returning volunteers from 2017 attend the second evenings, partly as a refresher and partly to meet and reassure new volunteers. ACT volunteers can then commit to spending one night per month, on nights selected by them, helping to run any of the shelters as part of a roster of volunteers.
For details about volunteering with Safe Shelter ACT, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you volunteered at a homeless facility? What was your experience helping the community in this way? Tell us your thoughts below.