The community group helping Perth’s homeless

It’s a cold Sunday morning and a group of 40 volunteers are busily setting up tables full of food, blankets, clothes and toiletries on a quiet street behind Royal Perth Hospital.

The community group helping Perth’s homeless

It’s a cold Sunday morning and a group of 40 volunteers are busily setting up tables full of food, blankets, clothes and toiletries on a quiet street behind Royal Perth Hospital.

A line of people has started to form, half an hour before Perth Homeless Support Group’s Sunday outreach service is set to start.

“Some of these people might not have had a meal since Friday,” The group’s president Aaron McGregor said.

“ “A lot of these guys are down and out, they don’t know where to turn to.” ”— AARON MCGREGOR

These are just some of Perth’s homeless community – there are men, women and children, young and old who have made their way to Moore Street for something hot to eat and to stock up on basic supplies.

According to Shelter WA, it is estimated that 9,000 Western Australians experience homelessness every night, with more than a 1,000 of those sleeping rough and more than 1,000 being under the age of 12.

Perth Homeless Support Group was formed in 2015, after its founders Ron Reid and Michael Edwards noticed an increasing amount of displaced and homeless people.

After taking the time to listen and hear some of their stories, the pair decided to do something about it.

Each week more than 40 volunteers meet at Moore Street to give those experiencing homelessness something to eat and some basic necessities.

PHSG now feed and clothe anywhere between 150 and 200 displaced people every single Sunday of the year and have built a community of more than 200 volunteers. They also provide an outreach service every Tuesday night, handing out warm food and blankets.

The group solely relies on community donations and grants and works alongside other service providers to not only fill peoples bellies, but provide wrap around support for some of Perth’s most vulnerable.

Aaron McGregor is a passionate advocate for Perth’s homeless community.

This can be seen as Aaron makes the rounds, having a chat to the regular patrons, he shakes their hands, shares a joke and checks in to see if they need anything.

One man tells Aaron his hands are cold, so Aaron makes a mental note to add handwarmers to next week’s offering.

He said the service is all about giving vulnerable people basic supplies and letting people choose what they need out of a range of different items, something they don’t normally get to do.

“These guys lined up here, we give them some choice and it helps them out,” he said.

“They’re often just treated as a number, but we don’t treat them like that.

“We bring back that value, we value them as a human – it’s hard when a government support worker might have a case load of 50 clients, whereas we can do personal one-on-one support.

“ “We get personally involved with these guys, we’re advocating for them, the homeless community, because they are part of the community.” ”

Aaron said the group works together with other service providers, sharing their donations with others to expand their reach wider, to ultimately help as many people as they can.

Organisations like Orange Sky who provide washing machine facilities and One Voice who give hot showers are there on the Sunday, as well as a GP and a library of books.

“We’re like a community in ourselves, a community of grass-roots, non-profit charities who don’t receive any government funding.

“We’re all networking with each other, helping each other out and that’s what it is all about, the one purpose – to help these guys who are lined up today.”

The group shows the power and impact that people can have, when they come together to make change.

Even though Aaron might not have all the answers to end homelessness, the tangible impact the group has on the lives of those society often forgets about is visible and it is felt, every Sunday rain or shine.

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