Byron cleans up its act with showers for the homeless

NEW LEASE OF LIFE: The Old Girl Guides Hall in Carlyle Street Byron Bay.
NEW LEASE OF LIFE: The Old Girl Guides Hall in Carlyle Street Byron Bay. Christian Morrow

BYRON'S homeless population may at last have a place to get a hot shower.

The Byron Community Centre has signed a lease with council to take over administration of the disused Girl Guide Hall in Carlyle St and plans to offer showers there for two hours two days a week.

Due to start on June 1, the plan would see those needing a place to wash booking in at Liberation Larder for one of two sessions from 10am-12noon on Monday for women or Wednesday for men.

The service would be supervised by volunteers from several organisations, including the social enterprise group FSG Australia, St Vincent De Paul, the Primary Health Network and the Connecting Home service.

Community Centre manager Paul Spooner hailed the service saying, "What we are providing here is a shower opportunity a couple of times a week only".

"Its not a place to hang out or where people get services delivered. They still go to Jonson St for that. There is also a clear message that people have to book in and not just turn up," he said. "But it is about having a place to get a hot shower so people can be healthy and look respectable in order to get some accommodation or go to a job interview.

"Without these basic human needs being met, people cannot progress, it's as simple as that."

Local homeless were left with no facilities after the Fletcher St Cottage was closed last year due to funding cuts.

A plan last year to use the Guide Hall to deliver a similar service was abandoned after a backlash from local residents.

"I would say to residents, let's just give it a try and see what the results are. Hopefully they can support it and be involved in it becoming a success."

Mr Spooner said the shower service would be just one use the hall may be put to as part of operating as a community facility. Other possibilities include groups such as seniors yoga, choirs, playgroups and dance classes.

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