HOMELESS people sleeping at a Gold Coast church will be among the first to receive support from a new safe space for people on the streets.
Members of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Surfers Paradise conference have offered to pool together donations from the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout and future financial gifts to build a centre that will get homeless people into homes and employment.
They already have more than $500,000 in donations to buy land and begin building a centre.
The project started out as a practical solution to help a man who took up residence at Stella Maris Church, Broadbeach, in December.
Surfers Paradise parish priest Fr Tim Harris said a homeless man sleeping at the parish had run out of living options and felt safest near the church.
“He keeps coming back,” Fr Harris said.
“The question came down to, is that man going to live there for the rest of his life?
“So how can we help this man beyond just feeding him; we’ve got to skill him up.”
The centre will offer counselling services for people at risk of homelessness or already living on the streets, workshops to develop patrons’ employment skills, and access to medical care.
“The local conference is now looking at purchasing a building or premises to respond to the increasing homeless need, not just in Surfers Paradise but in the Gold Coast region,” Fr Harris said.
He said the primary goal of the centre would be ending the cycle of homelessness.
He called on the entire community to get behind the project and create a homeless-free city.
“There are limited places for people to go if you are homeless on the Gold Coast,” Fr Harris said.
“The community often doesn’t want this in their backyard because it’s messy.
“But it wasn’t clean, it wasn’t pristine, when Jesus was in the stable.
“If we can get these people off the streets, that’s one positive step.”