Homing into homelessness

SHOOT: Come and try to score a goal at the Lismore Car Boot Market this Sunday and learn about homelessness at the same time – (from left) Leanne Gilchrist, Alan Teague and Rachel Keed show us how it’s done.
SHOOT: Come and try to score a goal at the Lismore Car Boot Market this Sunday and learn about homelessness at the same time – (from left) Leanne Gilchrist, Alan Teague and Rachel Keed show us how it’s done.

Kick a football into the goal and drop some money in the bucket at the Lismore Car Boot Market on Sunday, August 5 and not only will you be helping raise money for the Winsome Soup Kitchen, you'll also be learning about the issue of homelessness. With National Homelessness Week beginning on August 6, this weekend service providers will collaborate with local musicians to bring colour, action and music to the market in an effort to raise awareness about the many and complex issues that lead to homelessness in our community.

Alan Teagan from On Track Community Programs said that with 105,000 Australian's experiencing homelessness on any given night, it's a problem that may touch anyone's lives.

"We want to break the stigma that often arises when people are confronted with the issue of homelessness," Alan said. "This year we are holding a market stall and running a competition where anyone who can kick a football into the goal and answer a question about homelessness will go into a draw to win a $50 voucher from Big W."

Joining Alan at the market stall this weekend will be other key service providers including Centrelink, Housing NSW, Legal Aid and the Winsome Soup Kitchen. From 9am, a line-up of special guest musicians will play, including the Winsome Gospel Choir, Luke Vassella and John Gift. Roving clowns will oversee the goal-scoring games and everyone is invited to come along and get involved.

The theme for this year's National Homelessness Week is 'homing in on the real issues' and Alan said there is still a perception that homeless people have brought it on themselves.

"They often have the image of an old man on a park bench holding a flagon of wine," Michael said. "When you look at the statistics it's families, single parents and older women who are most often homeless. People don't look at the reasons behind why people are homeless; it could be through personal tragedy, family break-ups or mental illness. It's also because of a lack of social housing. In the John Howard years, social housing decreased by 33%."

Both Alan and Leanne Gilchrist from St Vincent De Paul help people in our local communities who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

"We work with them and get them into private rental accommodation," Leanne said. "Housing is so important to give people stability. If someone has a mental illness and is receiving Youth Allowance or Newstart, it may be best for them to live in a one bedroom flat, but they often can't afford to. We need to change things to give more assistance to people who need accommodation and we need more social housing."

This Sunday, all money raised by the market through the charity of the month collection will go to the Winsome Soup Kitchen to help feed the homeless and Alan encourages everyone to dig deep.

"The soup kitchen is an important social hub that gives people on the margins an opportunity for social interaction," Alan said. "They can make friends and feel they belong."

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