Listen: Rev Keith Garner, CEO of Wesley Mission, chats to Ray Kington
As we mark Homelessness Week this week, Hope Drive presenter Ray Kington chatted to Wesley Mission’s CEO, Reverend Keith Garner, about the ongoing issue of homelessness in Sydney and across the state.
He said many groups not normally associated with homelessness – such as single women – are becoming increasingly vulnerable.
“We need to realise homelessenss is complex and it’s a lot different to peoples perception,” he said. “When you think about homelessness, people often think about the guy in the park with a bottle, in the city centre.
“That may be true for some, but it’s just as likely to be a woman as a man; and it’s just as likely to be a younger person than an older person. And the causes are very complex. We have to take very seriously domestic and family violence… Mental health issues are there in every particular area we’re involved in. And the housing crisis is a very real one.”
Support Needed for Crisis Accommodation Upgrade
In the month of February, Rev Garner said, there were 334 rough sleepers in the centre of Sydney alone.
He spoke about the need for support as Wesley Mission’s crisis accommodation in Surry Hills undergoes a total refurbishment, and the unique pressures on the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.
People who are homeless are suffering more loneliness in this season, because COVID-19 is making us avoid strangers when we are out and about on the street.
“We try to encourage people please make relationships with these people,” he said. “They’re just glad to have people to talk to. When you’re on the street, you need people.”