Ser­vices to sup­port the home­less

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

WHIT­SUN­DAY res­i­dents are be­ing asked to think about those with­out a roof over their heads dur­ing national Home­less Per­sons Week from Au­gust 5-11.

Whit­sun­day Cri­sis and Coun­selling Ser­vices (WCCS) CEO Car­men Bekker said lo­cally “we could be for­given for think­ing this prob­lem does not ex­ist, yet it does.”

Ms Bekker said WCCS helped 10-15 home­less peo­ple each month, through the Emer­gency Re­lief Pro­gram.

“The per­cep­tion of the Whit­sun­days is one of am­ple work op­por­tu­ni­ties be­tween the min­ing sec­tor, ru­ral sea­sonal work and the tourism in­dus­try, yet [the] re­al­ity to­day is that all of the sec­tors have ex­pe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant down­turns in em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and peo­ple ar­riv­ing have fallen short of the ex­pec­ta­tions to find em­ploy­ment,” she said.

Ms Bekker said WCCS was able to pro­vide a range of as­sis­tance in­clud­ing a spe­cial­ist home­less­ness ser­vice for women and chil­dren es­cap­ing do­mes­tic and fam­ily vi­o­lence.

“The Whit­sun­day re­gion is for­tu­nate to have this pro­gram as it is the only ex­ist­ing funded home­less­ness pro­gram in the area,” she said.

Each year an aver­age of 50 women and 70 chil­dren are ac­com­mo­dated with WCCS.

Ms Bekker said many ar­rived with lit­tle more than a back­pack to hold their im­por­tant pa­per­work and min­i­mal clothes.

The WCCS spe­cial­ist home­less­ness ser­vice for women and chil­dren cur­rently re­mains funded un­til June 2014, but fund­ing only cov­ers ba­sic op­er­a­tions and other holis­tic as­pects of the ser­vice rely heav­ily on com­mu­nity sup­port.

Peo­ple re­quir­ing as­sis­tance and com­mu­nity mem­bers or groups who would like to do­nate can con­tact WCCS on 4946 2999 or re­cep­tion@whit­sun­day­

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