Local businesses – from tiny cafes to major corporations – have come together during COVID-19 to donate goods and funds to agencies that support people experiencing homelessness.
Donations have included more than nine tonnes of food, 750 meals per week, 160,000 face masks, 500 hand sanitiser pumps, 100 laptops and 50 mobile phones.
This goodwill shows how Melburnians step up to support each other in times of crisis, even when so many of us are facing great challenges.
Youth Projects is one of the agencies making use of the generous donations. The community health organisation provides front-line support to young people and individuals experiencing disadvantage, unemployment, homelessness, alcohol and other drug issues.
‘We’ve been fortunate in receiving daily donations of fresh, nutritious meals from local restaurants in the CBD – these alone are feeding more than 70 people each day,’ Youth Projects CEO Ben Vasiliou said.
‘We’ve also been able to support people sleeping rough with material aid such as clothes and footwear, hygiene products and more.’
Youth Projects averages more than 17,000 contacts a year at The Living Room, its free primary health clinic on Hosier Lane, providing thousands of doctor appointments, nursing and mental health support, showers, laundry services, food and internet access.
For necessities like warm clothes, food and hygiene items, Youth Projects relies heavily on donations. During COVID-19, this need has been even greater.
‘We’ve already seen hundreds of Melburnians step up and show their generous spirit, but we’re still struggling to keep up with what’s really needed during the COVID-19 crisis,’ Mr Vasiliou said.
‘If you would like to support us, please visit youthprojects.org.au or call ahead to arrange a safe, no-contact drop off to our Hosier Lane site.’
Homelessness rates in Melbourne have soared over the past 10 years. On any given night, 300 people sleep rough on the streets in the City of Melbourne, according to the results of StreetCount 2018.
‘Street homelessness in Melbourne is solvable – and we shouldn’t settle for anything less,’ Mr Vasiliou said.
‘We need more housing and a holistic, long-term approach to supporting people out of homelessness that enables greater social and economic participation.’
What we’re doing to help during COVID-19
The City of Melbourne is working together with the Victorian Government, support agencies and businesses to provide hotel emergency accommodation, care, and health and wellbeing support for more than 300 people who were sleeping rough prior to COVID-19.
We continue to check in with people experiencing homelessness in the city to offer a safe place to sleep. Together with other service providers, we are offering masks, hand sanitiser, and mask education to people sleeping rough.
How you can help
We encourage anyone who wants to help to donate to support agencies that provide the long-term support and care needed to break the cycle of homelessness.
These agencies include Anglicare Victoria, The Big Issue, Launch Housing, Melbourne City Mission, The Salvation Army, The Sneaker Laundry, VincentCare and Youth Projects.
For more details, visit Homelessness.