Simon Warner at the Byron Community Centre during severe wet weather.
Simon Warner at the Byron Community Centre during severe wet weather.

Funding for pop-up homeless shelter running dry

FUNDING is running dry for a pop-up homeless shelter in Byron Bay.

Organisers only have enough resources to continue operations for 16 nights of a mixed-gender shelter or eight nights of shelter where the genders are separated.

Byron Community Centre general manager Louise O’Connell says for the centre to keep offering the shelter, they will need to access either ongoing funding or donations from the community.

The BCC has provided 11 nights of shelter during severe wet weather in 2020.

The shelter offers a comfortable night sleep for those sleeping rough, there are plenty of hot meals, king-single camp stretchers, sheets and blankets, toilet facilities and a set of agreed house rules.

Fifty people registered for a bed during the past weather event and 45 people ended up staying for at least one night. Some have stayed for 10 nights.

In partnership with the Uniting and Anglican Churches and Liberation Larder, the BCC has been running the severe wet weather shelter for the past two years.

There is no recurrent government funding for this project.

The project was made possible by small one-off grants and generous donations.

Simon Warner recently stayed four nights at the shelter.

“I’d be getting pretty wet sleeping on the street,” he said.

“As long as we are here, we are all right. The staff are really good, give us a hot meal and a coffee and a chat in the morning. I think what is missing is a hot shower, I have to wait till Monday for that.”

Ms O’Connell said the shelter doesn’t suit everyone sleeping rough.

“We cannot have dogs at the shelter because we don’t have kennels to safely house them, we can’t allow the use of alcohol and drugs in the venue, or even allow someone to play music as it may disturb other guests,” she said.

“Some people just can’t sleep in the same room as others. On the positive side, we are offering 20 beds more than anyone else in the shire and everyone who has a dry night sleep is exceptionally grateful. I hope we can continue to offer this project into the future.”

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