Homeless appeal a long-held dream

The launch of an appeal to help a new drop-in centre for the homeless and those in need in Byron Bay open its doors next February was the realisation of a dream held by many people in the community.

The Fletcher Street Cottage will officially open on February 1, but the appeal, launched by Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham last Friday, is hoping to raise about $20,000 to cover operating costs and to raise money to equip and furnish the cottage.

The cottage, which will be run by the Byron Bay Community Centre, will be staffed by volunteers and The Salvation Army.

The community centre has signed a two-year lease with Byron Shire Council to operate the cottage.

“This cottage is unique and will help those who need it most,” community centre general manager Paul Spooner said.

“This is what true community spirit is all about, with all these organisations coming together to help those in need.

“We want to thank the council, The Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, Byron Neighbourhood Centre and many more individuals who have helped realise this dream.”

Cr Barham said the cottage represented a great collaboration within the community.

“In 2010 let us show everyone that Byron Bay is a caring community,” she said.

Delta Kay, representing the Arakwal Corporation, said it had been a dream of her people to have somewhere culturally inviting to go to in the hub of the town. She said the cottage was long overdue.

Major Darren Elsley from The Salvation Army in Byron Bay said the establishment of the cottage had so many supporters and it showed how much generosity there was in the town.

Former Byron Shire councillor John Lazarus said the importance of the cottage could not be underestimated.

“The fact is that the majority of people in this shire are poor and this cottage will give those people a voice,” he said.

The launch appeal also featured a performance by an Indigenous dancer; poems written and read by Mark Plummer and a cheque for $1000 was presented from BayFM.

The cottage will operate from Monday to Friday and if you would like to donate some goods or money, contact Mr Spooner at info@byroncentre.com.au

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