Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham and manager of the Byron Bay Community Centre Paul Spooner celebrate the opening of the Fletcher Street Cottage.
Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham and manager of the Byron Bay Community Centre Paul Spooner celebrate the opening of the Fletcher Street Cottage.

New 'home' for homeless

A donation of $10,000 from ‘Lorraine’ – just ‘Lorraine’ – typified the huge community effort which saw the refurbished Fletcher Street Cottage at Byron Bay officially opened last Thursday.


While the donation from ‘Lorraine’ was extraordinary, support from local businesses and other individuals for the cottage, a safe haven for the homeless and those in need, was widespread.


Indeed, in cash and kind, community donations added up to about $60,000, according to Paul Spooner, the manager of the Byron Bay Community Centre.


“It’s the sort of thing that’s possible in Byron Bay,” he said.


“It shows to me we are a caring community.”


But there will be costs involved in keeping the doors to the cottage open.


Mr Spooner estimates those costs add up to $500 a week and he has invited the community to continue to lend a hand.


As well as a range of drop-in services at the cottage, to be managed by Major Darren Elsley from the Salvation Army, there will be a safe, secure room where personal items can be stored.


As well as the Salvation Army and the Community Centre, the project is being supported by St Vincent de Paul and the Byron Neighbourhood Resource Service.


Jani Collins, president of the Byron Bay Community Association, said there were people in the Byron Bay community who felt ‘disconnected’ and didn’t have a place to which they belonged.


Ms Collins said that with the Fletcher Street Cottage, they now had a ‘beautiful place’ where they could go with dignity and feel welcome.


She said many people with a lot of vision had worked for a long time to reach the point where the cottage’s doors could be opened.


Major Elsley, who wrote a special prayer for the official opening, said it had been a great community effort.


Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham said it was a time to celebrate a sense of community and to show that Byron Bay had a ‘heart and soul’.


The cottage will be open as a drop-in centre for the homeless on week days from 10 am to 4 pm.


Anyone who wants to support the cottage can contact Paul Spooner on 0434771510 or email info@byroncentre.com.au


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