When Sydney Homeless Connect asked the Paper+Spark team to help spread their story and amplify their event I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect, or understood how meaningful the work SHC does is. Working with the team was a humbling experience.
Homelessness is a lifestyle many of us will never need to face however, for over 116 000 men, women and children of all ages, from all across Australia homelessness, or the real risk of homelessness, is the reality of daily life. In NSW nearly 40, 000 people are homeless, and each person has their own story of how they came to be living without the basic securities, comforts and visibility that most of us are fortunate enough to take for granted – and they’re not always the stories we’re led to believe.
Sydney Homeless Connect knows these stories and experiences well, and understands the varied needs, interests and challenges of people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Every year, in the middle of winter when a bit of extra care is needed most, Sydney Homeless Connect takes over Sydney Town Hall for a day of connecting people in need with services, businesses and groups that can help.
2019 celebrates 10 years of Sydney Homeless Connect, for founders Andrew Everingham and Peter Durie the milestone is bittersweet. “I look back on 10 years with a great amount of fondness,” says Andrew. “I know we’ve done a lot of good and I know that we’ve helped a lot of people to get on the path out of homelessness.” Some people come for the simple joy of having company and a chat over a hot meal, a haircut, new clothes, health care or even a bit of extra love and vet care for their furry little best friend. For others, Sydney Homeless Connect is the chance to talk face to face with services and government agencies that are essential, but might normally seem too challenging.
It’s a humbling experience when you realise that what sound like ordinary everyday things to many of us are so inaccessible and challenging for people experiencing homelessness. More importantly though we now understand that “homeless” is just another label – and we’re grateful for this new perspective.
There may not be an easy solution to homelessness, but SHC showed us that there are as many ways to help as people who want to. We are so proud to have worked with the SHC team, and to have been part of an event that genuinely improves lives.
Within a minimal budget and a heartfelt cause, the results of the campaign were revealing.