Wollongong District Police want homeless or vulnerable people to know that the men and women in blue are there to help.
That's why some officers attended a community barbeque lunch hosted by Wollongong Homeless Hub on Wednesday as part of Homelessness Week.
Wollongong Police District Chief Inspector Darren Brown said police were often the first port of call to provide help to homeless people.
"[Often at night] we try to interact with them and let them know that we are available to help them out," Insp Brown said.
"Our main role is referral. If we have got somewhere to refer them to such as the Homeless Hub at Wollongong then that is the best thing we can do for them.
"That is generally the best option instead of taking other actions that the police unfortunately have to do sometimes.
"Police are part of the community too and the barbecue is one way homeless people can meet us."
Insp Brown said homelessness affected all communities around Australia and people often became homeless through unemployment, domestic violence, drugs and alcohol, mental health or circumstances out of their control.
Lake Heights resident Daniel Ball said he started living rough in Sydney to save money to give to his daughter.
He went through a tough time when he was homeless. He felt lost, confused, had a drinking problem and sometimes had run ins with police after he was told to move on from a safe place to sleep.
Mr Ball got his life back on track through practising art.
"I bought some chalk and stated drawing pictures on the ground. I practised and practised," he said.
"I survived out there. I went around looking for $2 coins in Hyde Park and I did some cleaning work.
"I changed, I felt renewed, and I did something brave. I wanted to be a real Australian."
Mr Ball moved to Wollongong and connected with the Homeless Hub and got accommodation.