Category

Uncategorised

Dine Out and Help Someone Sleeping Out this Festive Season

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

DineSmart is our longest running campaign, we are more determined than ever to raise much-needed funds for local homelessness services. The backdrop to this year’s campaign is a rising homelessness crisis, and a critical funding shortage in the homelessness sector. 

DineSmart runs in close partnership with some of Australia’s best restaurants, beautiful regional estates, and tiny little eateries that know every customer by name. What they share in common, is a love for their local area.

Restaurants and cafes are part of their local community. The regulars, the passers-by, nine-to-fivers, and those experiencing homelessness all come into contact with local eateries. As the homelessness crisis has seen a rise in people who are sleeping rough, many of those affected seek shelter around busy restaurant hubs.

“We’re based in the heart of the Melbourne CBD, and we have seen a real rise in the number of people sleeping rough right on our doorstep. It is easy to feel powerless, but our work with StreetSmart is such an important and tangible way to make a difference.” – DineSmart Ambassador, Nick Peters of Mamasita and Hotel Jesus

 

Nick Peters, Mamasita and Hotel Jesus

 

And the funds DineSmart venues raise really do make a difference.

Andrew Grinter owns Pizza D’oh in Blairgowrie. Since 2007 Andrew, his staff and generous customers have raised over $35,000. Every dollar has helped to fund vital local projects including the Southern Peninsula Community Centre’s Emergency Relief Fund.

The Emergency Relief Fund has helped people like Susan and her three kids who were found to be sleeping in their car after escaping family violence. With the support of funds raised by Pizza D’oh, Susan’s and her family were supported into housing, and the kids settled into a new school.

Funding for emergency relief has been slashed from the federal budget over successive years, which has left services unable to support people when they need it. While governments are busy dismantling the social safety net, people like Susan and her family too easily fall through the gaps. The fundraising efforts of DineSmart restaurants and customers provides a lifeline to services who are struggling to support people.

“We have been taking part in DineSmart since 2006. We think it is important for business to give back to the community – so raising funds to support local services that are out there doing the hard work was a simple decision for us. It is such a simple way to effect meaningful change in people’s lives. ” DineSmart Ambassador, Sam Christie of Longrain.

 

DineSmart will run at participating restaurants for the 15th year between 24th Nov – 24th Dec. If you would like your restaurant to be involved click here, or drop Sharna a line here. Diners contribute by choosing a DineSmart restaurant and leaving their donation on their bill.

 

Share

What is Causing the Homelessness Crisis?

By | CafeSmart, News, Uncategorised | No Comments

A protest message at Sydney’s Martin Place Homeless Camp.

The causes of homelessness are many and varied. Domestic violence, a shortage of affordable housing, sudden or long term unemployment, mental illness, family breakdown and drug and alcohol abuse all contribute to individual experiences of homelessness.

At the population level the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare tells us that there are two main reasons people experience homelessness. Simply not being able to afford housing and domestic violence.

Successive governments have sold off (and continue to sell off) public housing stock – and have been slow to replace with a coherent system for affordable housing. There is no National Housing Strategy, and the national framework for funding the states remains in a near constant state of limbo.

Instead we have a market solution geared to support investors that puts upward pressure on prices, and pushes low income earners to the fringeswith few jobs, and little public amenity. What public housing remains, comes with a depressingly long waiting list – and much of the stock is poorly utilised.  There is a welcome growth in community owned social housing, but it will take a long time to recover what has been lost.

Put simply: outrageous prices and few choices at the lower end of the market are the leading cause of homelessness.

Add to the mix negative wages growth, and an increasingly insecure job market – the demographic of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness is larger and more diverse than we have witnessed in decades. As Stephen McDermott, CEO of CafeSmart supported service – Saint Patrick’s Community Support Centre recently told Broadsheet:

“There’s certainly more people accessing our services, that’s for sure. But it’s coming from people that mightn’t have accessed our services in the past. These are people who’ve got part-time jobs. In the past we would have been servicing those predominantly outside of the work system.”

We are hearing the same story from the majority of the services we support – demand is up and the people in need of assistance are no longer the “poorest of the poor”. Yet these same services are also witnessing a decrease in public funding. Saint Patrick’s Community Support Centre has just scrapped its weekend meals service due to lack of funding.

For women, contending with affordability is compounded by domestic violence.

According to Institute of Health and Welfare 38% of all people requesting assistance from specialist homelessness agencies were experiencing domestic violence, and in need of emergency accommodation. Almost half of those people presented with children.

Domestic violence services are among those under threat by the uncertainty surrounding the federal-state agreement for funding. State by state responses vary considerably, but NSW, Victoria and WA are witnessing the largest growth in women seeking homeless services due to domestic violence.

When we spoke to another StreetSmart supported project, Youth Futures, about their housing program for young mothers, they told us they have no public funding and have to turn many women away. The rough price of housing every young mother that presents in need of support is about $150,000. That is to keep children out of state care, families together, and young women safe. A drop in the ocean, for immeasurable social good.  

So what needs to happen?

Housing and homelessness is complex. It affects lots of people, and the reasons it impacts people are not always the same. People have different needs, and face different barriers to getting out of the homelessness trap. The needs of a woman escaping domestic violence are very different to a single man who has experienced a sudden injury and job loss, or a young indigenous person in remote Australia.

That means it requires a comprehensive response – and a diversity of local services that can provide specialised assistance to the community.

StreetSmart supports small grassroots organisations, and most of these report that they have lost public funding. De-funding community level services that provide a vital safety net is a step in the wrong direction.

Federal and State governments need to take leadership on the issue – starting with the recognition that market based responses have comprehensively failed. We need a National Housing Strategy – and a clear funding framework to revitalise the social safety net.

Most of all – we need to keep people from becoming homeless in the first place. As our CEO Adam Robinson has said:

“When more than 1 in every 200 people are homeless every night in Australia we know there is a problem. When services working on the front-lines are telling us that this figure is likely to be much higher, and we don’t have coherent public response – that is a huge cause for concern.”

Heading into National Homelessness Week – we have our most significant campaign of the year – CafeSmart which will raise funds for grassroots homelessness services helping the diversity of people in need.

We believe that Housing is a Human Right, and no one should be without a safe and secure place to call home.  You can support the CafeSmart campaign this Friday August 4th by finding a participating cafe, or donating the cost of a coffee online.

 

Share

Local People Fight to End Homelessness

By | CafeSmart, News, Uncategorised | No Comments

We are one month away from CafeSmart – one of the biggest campaigns in the StreetSmart calendar. Behind the scenes, our Sponsors, Roasting Partners, and participating cafes are gearing up to raise funds for homeless services in their local area. Amid the madness that goes into the campaign, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on why it matters.

Homelessness is complex, and its impacts are far reaching.

Funding to the homelessness sector is a complicated web of federal and state government agreements. Too often the first thing on the chopping block when populist sentiment wins over good governance.

When governments retreat from their obligations to our society’s most vulnerable – the responsibility falls on the already struggling not-for-profit sector to make up the difference.

CafeSmart grants pool locally raised donations and direct them into local services that are working on the front lines. These are services that are serving up hot meals, putting roofs over people’s heads, and proving relief packages to people in need.

Youth Futures’ team

One organisation CafeSmart has continued to support over the years is Youth Futures. One of their programs supports young mums to break the cycle of homelessness, and to keep children from needlessly going into state care. Despite the obvious good for the families they assist and the broader community –  they have no government support.

West Coast cafes – Go Coffee Go, Myrtle Ivy, and Yahava are among those getting behind outcomes for Perth. Their efforts have helped to keep Youth Futures programs running.

Another great program CafeSmart donations have supported is Travellers Aid. They do vital work to assist people in crisis. They provide material aid, like hygiene products and phone cards, as well as hot showers, access to phone and internet and travel vouchers. Despite being an important drop-in service for the growing number of rough sleepers, Travellers Aid lost government funding and now depend on the support of grants.

Travellers Aid

Mr Grazier, Higher Ground, Earl Canteen, Blended Beard and Sensory Lab are among our Melbourne locals who keep Travel Aid’s programs open to the city’s most vulnerable.

When governments fail to step up, local people are stepping in. CafeSmart is a day of good will, and hard work by roasters, cafes owners, staff and local people who want to see things change for the better.

CafeSmart is about keeping a young mum and child together, or offering a hot shower to a person in need. It is about providing a leg-up, rather than sending people packing into the cold.

If you’re a café, and want shake up some positive change for your locals, you can sign up here.

If you want to support CafeSmart and #HelpYourHood, find out more here.

 

 

Share

Hunger and Food Security: an Invisible Crisis

By | StreetFunder, StreetSmart News, Uncategorised | No Comments

CareVan works in the Victorian and NSW boarder and serves up company and hot meals to the most vulnerable in the community.

This month is one of the coldest of the year. For those without a safe place to sleep or without the resources to heat their home, it’s the toughest time of year. That is why we are supporting three projects this June that are providing hot meals to people doing it tough.

Food security is an invisible crisis in our community. The dismantling of the social safety net by successive governments, housing stress, stagnant income growth, job insecurity and the cost of living are piling up – and it’s costing people dearly.

1 in 6 Australians report having experienced food insecurity at least once in the last 12 months, and a quarter of these are going hungry regularly. This is the difference between paying rent or a decent meal. It’s the choice between the gas heater and sending the kids to school with a packed lunch. Kathy Hogarthy at the St Mary’s House of Welcome has been running their meal service for years and explains that the “poorest of the poor” is a fast growing group:

“The demand for our services is unprecedented. In the last six months our daily breakfast has doubled and for some of these people that will be their only meal for the day.
It gets really cold and people need a substantive meal to stay healthy and warm. People are having to make the choice between a poor meal from a 7/11 and their medication or other really essential needs.”

 

Nationally more than 644,000 people now receive food relief each month, a third of whom are children. As a wealthy country it should be deeply shocking that we have eroded our once strong social safety net to such an extent that more than half a million people cannot put food on the table every month.

The depth of this problem is indicated by the diversity of those it effects. People with a disability, seniors, aboriginals, migrants and asylum seekers, women escaping domestic violence, people in rural or remote areas, single parents, as well as single men. Kathy has witnessed a shift in the kind of people coming in for the meal service:

“We are seeing a lot more women than in the past, lots of them sleeping in their cars and coming to us for a shower and a meal. Aboriginal people, and even children. The working poor haven’t seen an income rise in years, and can’t cope. There are so many factors, and so many people who just can’t even scrape by anymore.”

 

Happy diners at the CareVan meal service

The CareVan operates a meal service in Albury Wodonga for some of the communities most vulnerable, many of whom are wedged between different state arrangements of housing and social services. They also support a local church by donating meals, which Stacey Franklin says brings in more working class people who cannot cope with the cost of living, but still have a roof over their heads. Popping in to grab a take-away is less confronting for people who don’t have much interaction with charitable services. For these people, bill shock is a big reason they are struggling and need support when a big bill lands in their letter box.

With the sharp increase of people sleeping rough, we are confronted by poverty every time we step outside. The people cluttered around the safety of inner city streets are at the rough end of crisis. Less visible are families who can’t afford rent, let alone put food on the table. For every six people sleeping rough there is another 100 invisible people not able to afford the basics like food and shelter. Every one of these people deserves better, and that includes a nutritious meal and safe place to call home.

While we believe that governments need to step up and take the lead to address this crisis – we know that takes time, and people are struggling right now. You can support CareVan, St Mary’s House of Welcome and the Adelaide Day Centre meals services through our StreetFunder by following the link below.

StreetSmart is all about crowdfunded people power and getting every dollar donated to where it’s need most.

JOIN US IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HUNGER THIS WINTER BY DONATING TO OUR STREETFUNDER

 

Share