Dig deep: Vinnies plea this winter

As the colder weather takes hold, the community is being asked to dig deep to help the St Vincent de Paul Society meet increased demand for its services and reach its winter appeal target of more than $300,000.

President of the society in Canberra/Goulburn Warwick Fulton said to most people the face of homelessness “is a man who is sleeping rough in an alleyway in the city.

“The hard truth is that homelessness does not discriminate and it affects men, women and children across our community.

“There is not one picture of homelessness and there is not one cause. The causes underlying homelessness are complex and often completely out of one’s control. For many, it just takes one moment, one crisis to end up without a home.”

The 2011 Census noted 3,920 children in the ACT and NSW experienced homelessness before their 13th birthday.

Throughout the ACT and NSW there were more than 12,200 women facing homelessness.

Most of these women have children and they are not necessarily sleeping rough on the streets, but in their cars, in motels, crisis refuges and on friends’ and family’s couches.

Funds raised through the society’s winter appeal are used for home visitations and support programs such as Night Patrol, Blue Door, Clemente and St Nick’s Young Carers.

Since January, the society has provided more than $150,000 worth of support in the ACT with 68 per cent of this going towards food. By helping mothers to buy food, the society helps them to save for the bond for a place to live, pay rent or buy a heater to keep warm.

One of the families assisted by the society is Sarah and her son David (not their real names). At the beginning of the year, Sarah left her partner of seven years who was emotionally and physically abusive.

With the help of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Sarah now has a house to live in while she waits for priority housing through the ACT Government. Having a secure place to stay enables her to start rebuilding her life.

“Vinnies has changed my life,” she said. “Now that I have a roof over my head, I have my freedom back; coming [to Vinnies] is like safety.”

Donations may be made via www.vinnies.org.au/winterappeal