IT is easy to tune off when presented with the latest estimate that no less than 150 million people, or about two per cent of the world’s population, are homeless.
On World Homelessness Day, October 10, an estimated 116,000 Australians, and 20,000 in Queensland, slept rough, couch surfed or settled in for the night feeling insecure in temporary lodgings.
There’s another dimension to homelessness – the legion of volunteers who de-vote their time, energy and support – Catholic organisations like Vinnies and Rosies that are on hand to help youth, families and singles with a range of ser-vices and outreaches.
“Today issues of homelessness and loneliness have reached crisis proportions meaning Rosies mission is needed more than ever before,” the latest Rosie’s newsletter states, reflecting on more than 30 years of service in Queensland.
“Our supporters including volunteers and financial and in-kind donors continue to champion our grass root’s nature and practical response to peoples’ need for human engagement.”
With more than 9000 volunteers, Vinnies operates at the coalface when it comes to homelessness in Queensland, especially in the last 12 months as entire communities battled floods and fires.
The February floods in North Queensland stretched volunteer resources as Vin-nies visited 867 homes, provided assistance with temporary accommodation, replacing furniture and appliances, emergency bill payment and providing food and clothing vouchers.
Vinnies recently named volunteer and long time Vincentian Barbara Bickhoff as one of its tireless servers.
When Central Queensland was ravaged by bushfires late last year, Mrs Bickhoff put her hand up to help when 8000 people were evacuated from Gracemere, helping at the evacuation centre as local families took late-night shelter, and then fronting up early the next morning to do more.
Not long after, she travelled in Townsville to help victims of the flood, spending 10 days on the ground, then returning home to Rockhampton to work her nor-mal shifts in the local Vinnies support centre.
Vinnies Rockhampton diocese executive officer Tanya Doherty said Mrs Bickhoff was the perfect example of what gives hope in times of crisis.
“Barb gives back to the community so much, she just helps wherever and how-ever she can,” she said.
“She has made a difference to so many locals, making people smile, knowing Vinnies is always there.”