FOR the second year running, Safe Shelter ACT will be unable to open its doors to homeless men due to COVID-19 concerns, but the organisation is working on other ways to give those in need a safe and warm respite this winter.
Providing a free overnight safe haven for homeless men in Canberra since 2010, the shelter’s operation this year was dependent on the completion of the national vaccine rollout, something still a while away yet.
Despite the news, Safe Shelter ACT will be looking at alternative strategies to assist the homeless in Canberra in finding safety this winter.
Safe Shelter will continue to provide practical support to rough sleepers who use the Red Cross Roadhouse, which provides free meals, and Early Morning Centre at the City Uniting Church, which offers food, shelter and healthcare, said Safe Shelter ACT coordinator Richard Griffiths.
Richard said Safe Shelter will help in the form of swags and sleeping bags, for which those facilities do not appear to be funded.
“Safe Shelter’s volunteers from previous years have been encouraged to volunteer at the Winter Lodge and with Orange Sky Laundry,” he said.
Orange Sky gives those in need a chance to connect through a regular laundry and shower service.
Also operating this year from April to September will be Argyle’s Housing Winter Lodge in Ainslie Village, which will be able to accomodate 18 homeless men in both winter 2021 and winter 2022.
“[This] is very welcome and it has allowed Safe Shelter’s coordinating committee to look at longer term plans to support rough sleepers,” said Richard.
“Safe Shelter’s experience with homeless men in previous years has shown that providing a safe place to sleep gave 72 per cent of guests breathing space to sort themselves out before their homelessness became permanent.”