North beach vigil to shine light on homelessness

Members of homeless agencies are to hold a candlelight event at North Beach in a bid to raise awareness. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Members of homeless agencies are to hold a candlelight event at North Beach in a bid to raise awareness. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Cold and alone, penniless and scared, and with nowhere to go, a man wraps his blanket tighter around his body as he shivers through a long night sleeping on North Wollongong Beach.

Shocking as it may be, it is the story Wollongong Emergency Family Housing (WEFH) manager Julie Mitchell heard that spurred her into holding a beachside candlelight vigil this weekend to call for action on the region's housing issues.

"This man couldn't stay with family, had no money, and absolutely nowhere to go. We didn't have resources to offer him accommodation at that time, all we could do was give him a sleeping bag and blanket," Ms Mitchell said.

The "Bring Light To The Homeless" event on Saturday evening will host family games, food stalls and music, before culminating in a mass vigil as attendees spell out a giant SOS on the beach in candlelight.

"It is to highlight the plight of homeless people in Wollongong, so nobody has to have that experience of sleeping on the beach again," Ms Mitchell said.

Organised with Illawarra TAFE students, proceeds will go to the Wollongong Homeless Hub, a resource from WEFH and Wollongong Women's Housing.

Since opening in October, the hub has served more than 1400 clients. A Senate estimates committee heard 500,000 people would require emergency assistance in coming years because of the federal budget's changes to welfare.

Bring Light To The Homeless is at North Beach from 4pm on Saturday.

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