Home General News Help for people who are missing out this winter

Help for people who are missing out this winter

by ervte

As Sydney braces for bitterly cold winds and wet weather this winter, Wayside Chapel seeks urgent public support to help the influx of people in crisis seeking shelter, practical support, and respite from the elements – as well as the connection, care, and love they deserve.

Since the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year, Wayside Chapel has received an average of 154 people per day (Jan-Mar 2022) access to support. As the cold and wet weather hits, frontline Community Service Center workers feel the urgency to avert the extreme health risks faced by rough sleepers, from COVID-19 and the deadly flu virus, in a vulnerable population already suffering from many already existing health problems and lower immunity.Help for people who are missing out this winter

“Rough sleepers may not have an ID, mailing address, bank details or even the means to travel to an appointment, so they can’t navigate the bureaucracy of the housing process.” – Jon Owen, CEO of Wayside Chapel.

It becomes a daily struggle to find shelter and the necessities of life. Wayside Chapel CEO and Pastor Rev. Jon Owen said: “Even the hardiest shaggy sleepers may be able to survive on the streets in other seasons, but during the winter, many seek urgent respite in emergency shelters to avoid the bitter cold. Like all of us, they need hot showers, cups of tea, blankets, warmth, and love and connection to survive.”

Earlier, during COVID-19 lockdowns, many people with poor sleep had access to longer-term hotel accommodation. They provided a welcome respite to regain energy, effectively engage with support agencies, and transition to long-term housing. However, since restrictions have been relaxed, this is no longer the case, and people who sleep poorly often experience a range of barriers to accessing crisis shelters.

“Rough sleepers may not have ID, mailing address, bank details, or even the means to travel to an appointment, so they can’t navigate the bureaucracy of the housing process. Many have psychological problems or suffer from chronic health problems. In many ways, the struggle for survival is worse now than during the lockdown.”

One of the people who has helped Wayside Chapel is Lisa. Lisa had slept badly for years before arriving at Wayside Chapel. She didn’t have much with her. She struggled with mental health issues and drug addiction due to past trauma. Despite the challenges life brought her, Lisa never gave up. From food and clean clothing to emergency housing and medical care, Wayside was the safe place where Lisa could take refuge when she had nowhere else to go.

During her most difficult days, she felt isolated. But she knew someone would listen to her and get her back on track. Today Lisa is two years cleaner and happier than ever. Wayside supported her in finding long-term, stable housing that gave her the security and safety net she never had.

“Some days, I felt isolated and helpless. Wayside never sent me away. They always listened to me and ensured I was safe,” says Lisa.

Recognizing these complex challenges, Wayside Chapel provides flexible emergency shelter referrals and support for those falling through the cracks, working closely together to transfer them to appropriate long-term housing with full care. Through the generous support of our community, Wayside Chapel provides alternatives to a housing system that has often failed them and works closely with the government to recruit visitors and address these barriers more effectively.

“The least talked about part of what we offer people is love, understanding, and the bonds of connection. Only when people feel this confidence can they feel the confidence to take steps towards healing.” – Jon Owen

COVID-19 also highlighted the health risks of the vulnerable, and winter is an even more critical time. Many people who suffer from prolonged sleep deprivation struggle to access health care at the best times. For those who have been homeless for a long time, life expectancy has already been 30 years lower than that of the standard population. The need to prioritize basic physical conditions such as food, water, and a place to sleep means that medical conditions often go untreated. They may also deeply distrust the medical system due to complex trauma and fear of virus infection.

For this reason, Wayside Chapel works closely with partners such as Kirketon Road Center (KRC) and St Vincent’s Homeless Health to ensure available medical access. Wayside Chapel also plans to launch its primary health care on-site at the Kings Cross Community Services Centre to break down the barriers to entry by offering a bespoke GP service where they feel safe and welcome and where treatment can be provided if that is the case. Is needed.

This winter, support services will also focus on other key areas; provide a safe space for Aboriginal visitors to come out of a state of trauma to connect with their cultural strengths at their Aboriginal Cultural Center and give committed support to women’s well-being and domestic violence to ensure that women do not become homeless.

And beyond the essential needs, the point of difference that the organization prides itself on is its person-centered approach and mission of “creating a community of ‘no us and them'”, building trust and relationships first, which helps to identify one’s problems accurately. , and then coordinating enveloping care plans specifically tailored to the diverse needs of visitors.

Supports. Jon Owen says: “To build rapport with the people we support, we had to consider the complexity of each person’s situation and needs and tailor our programs and specialized staff in a way that would effectively serve our community. The least talked about part of what we offer people is love, understanding, and the bonds of connection. Only when people feel this confidence can they feel the confidence to take steps toward healing. It’s about providing critical support at the right time so people don’t become homeless or isolated. We are asking people in the community to help us continue to provide this critical support this winter to those who need it most.”

Wayside Chapel has provided unconditional love, care, and support to people in and around the streets of Sydney since 1964. This year, Wayside is urging people to donate to their Winter Appeal at waysidechapel.org.au/winter by June 30th

Janine Huan is part of Wayside Chapel’s dedicated team, led by CEO and Pastor Rev Jon Owen.

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