The seasons are changing and it’s getting colder. I’m sure you have felt it, even tucked up in your comfortable bedroom at night. So imagine what it’s like for the homeless. Their bedroom could be a wet and windy bus shelter.
I’m sure you’ve noticed there are more and more homeless people. They are in suburbs where they never used to be. These rough sleepers make all sorts of places their bedrooms.
A little while ago I came across a rough sleeper who slept on the roofs of buildings. “It is safe up there”, he told me. “No one ever looks up, so I can sleep without feeling scared”.
A homeless woman I know spends all day looking for a safe spot to bed-down in a park. “It is really scary at night. I have to find somewhere where I am well hidden”, she said. Incredibly, I have even come across rough sleepers who were blackened with soot because they slept in burned out buildings for safety.
The face of homelessness in Sydney is changing and we need to change with it. Rough sleepers aren’t just in the city now, they are in the outer suburbs too. So we are sending our food vans there, where the need is growing fastest.
Our food vans are now taking our nutritious meals to the needy across Sydney. In fact, these vans are even delivering our healthcare and counselling services to the rough sleepers as well. Their bedroom might be a park bench, but our vans are like their kitchen and family.
I know that when you walk past a rough sleeper in the street it can be difficult to know what to do. With your support, our fleet of vans will be well placed to give them the help they need.
Of course our ultimate goal is to get rough sleepers into homes. John was a homeless man I had known for years. We struck up a close relationship and we used to talk on a park bench. One day I said to him: “You know I love you, John”. His response was raw. He hugged me tightly and poured out his life story – one of rejection as a child and abuse all the way through his young years.
Thanks to the support of people like you we found John a place to live. Now he is a different man. He is house-proud and also proud of himself. John still comes to see me, but these days he likes to lend a hand to those less fortunate than him.
Our vans will enable us to help even more people like John – and provide that help faster. We don’t need to wait for rough sleepers to come to us anymore, their cold park bench or bus shelter is where we start changing their life.
It’s not just the way we help that is changing, it’s those we help too. Today, women make up a significant percentage of the homeless people who come to us in Ashfield. It is something that was unheard of years ago.
Sally was one of these people. She was a waif of a thing who’d fled an abusive relationship. Her bedroom was the back of her car. It goes without saying that her children had been taken into foster care. Sally’s life was not looking good.
Luckily, she came to us. We provided her with meals and some warm blankets. Then over time we were able to find her a home and get her life back on track. Now she has her children back too! It’s a miracle that your support makes possible.
In fact, if you support my food van service it will mean we can reach people like Sally much sooner, so we can give them the urgent help they need.
It’s going to be another cold and wet winter. Thankfully Sally, John and the other homeless people we’ve helped will be dry and warm. But spare a thought for those who still call the local bus shelter their bedroom – they need our help too. That’s why I’m asking for your support.
Together we can be their kitchen and family. If you make a donation to my winter appeal we can take our nourishing meals and our compassion to where it’s needed most. So please give today, confident in the knowledge it will enable me to help even more needy Sydneysiders.
Rev. Bill Crews
P.S. Please give today so our food vans can give the homeless hot meals and warm blankets this winter.