So much more than a soup kitchen - do you know what Hutt Street Centre really offers?
A little while back I visited the Hutt St Centre to see what it is that they offer. I had previously thought that this was a place where people sleeping rough could go to get a hot meal, stay dry for a little bit and connect with others in the same boat.
What I discovered is that Hutt St Centre is so, so much more. There is food (50,000 meals a year), a place for belonging and connection BUT they also provide showers, washing facilities, a day centre (with a small library!!), access to Drs and nurses, support for developing IT skills and resume writing, specialist dedicated social workers, access to art classes, massage, haircuts and grooming....and storage for personal belongings.
Our work is built on respect for individuals, their dignity and choices, responsiveness to their needs, and living our beliefs through excellence in service provision.
With creativity, love, respect, friendship and faith we work to inspire people facing homelessness to achieve their full potential.
Working in partnership with our clients, we meet peoples' immediate needs for meals, showers, health, counselling and legal services. But we do more. We provide case management, housing support and life skills through education, training and employment services because we know this offers a pathway out of homelessness.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the visit was reconciling the fact that there are some who have so little while so many of us houses full of bits and belongings and still yearn for more - new fashion, the latest gadgets, frivolous trinkets and expensive jewelry. We treat ourselves to takeaway meals, and shop bought coffees, shopping sprees and more stuff. In the storage room at the centre the precious only belongings of the men and women who visit can fit into a locker, some can fit their worldly possessions into a shopping bag. This imbalance grates the edges of my thoughts every day.
How do they do what they do?
Firstly they acknowledge that homelessness can happen to anyone and that "People who are homeless are among the most marginalised people in Australia. Homelessness is one of the most potent examples of disadvantage in the community, and one of the most important markers of social exclusion (Department of Human Services, 2002). To have a socially inclusive Australia, all Australians must have the capabilities, opportunities, responsibilities and resources to learn, work, engage and have a say (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2012). "
If you walked through the doors you would find hundreds of men and women enjoying healthy breakfasts and lunches in the dining room. In the Day Centre, men and women will be at computers checking on emails with family or participating in a learning program. There might be a visiting doctor seeing a stream of patients who wait patiently with a cup of tea, and another group following the test cricket on TV.
In the art room, you might find a volunteer teaching a group how to dye fabrics to make a wall hanging, and out in the laundry, a couple of clients doing their washing.
Behind the scenes are case managers, pastoral care staff and the management team working together to meet the urgent and ongoing needs of individuals and the continuous improvement in services.
Working from a place of care and compassion:
Every person is unique, and the support provided to help rebuild their lives is as varied as their life story.
We aim to end homelessness for every person who walks through our doors, with care and without judgement.
How to help:
There are many ways to directly assist the Hutt St Centre:
Donate to Pup and Girl run to Melbourne here.
Donate to directly to Hutt St Centre here.
Organise a workplace fundraiser like a causal day/cupcake day/morning tea.
Volunteer your time - try this link.
Donate essentials like blankets, sleeping bags, gloves, socks, beanies, non-perishable foods and toiletries.
And spread the word, let everyone you know about the increasingly important work that Hutt St Centre is doing...because they really are providing solutions that change lives!
You might also consider participating in the 'Walk a Mile' fundraising event.