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September 2015 News

Homelessness well and truly in the spotlight

  • Written by  Jess Krammer
Nat Spary experienced the harsh realities of living on the streets for a week Photo: Provided

The Homeless for a Week campaign between August 3 and 9 raised awareness of homelessness and a combined almost $60,000. 

The Basement Soup Kitchen coordinator Nat Spary went homeless for a week to raise funds for the soup kitchen and to raise awareness of homelessness.

“This year we just thought, how can we make it more; how can we get the awareness of homelessness out there more?” Nat said.

“That was one of the big reasons why I decided to sleep on the streets,” he said.

“The plus was the other thing: that the Basement is struggling financially. 

“We haven’t had any donations this year, so it was like a double whammy.”

At last update, Nat had raised $51,000 to keep the Basement Soup Kitchen open.

Toowoomba coordinator of Rosie’s Friends on the Street Jon Martlew joined Nat for the week.

“It was quite remarkable, because while we thought of it last year, the reality was Nat called me with pretty much a week to go and was like ‘now are we still doing this?’” Jon said.

“It was fantastic, and I really enjoyed it, and I learnt more than I expected, not by immersing myself in the homelessness thing, but by the people I got to meet,” he said.

Jon shared stories of various Rosie’s patrons who lent him a scarf, gave him a meal, and handed out brochures for Lifeline, even though they had little themselves.

Another man Jon met on the street offered to buy him a meal.

“So, wow, what did I learn?” Jon said. “Some of the people who have the least and are the least respected in society, show us the way sometimes.” 

“And wow, the generosity,” he said.

The Basement Soup Kitchen’s Nat Spary said the most difficult thing about the experience was the vulnerability.

“You feel so vulnerable. People get assaulted, bashed, so that’s a big thing that you really fear,” he said.

Toowoomba Regional Council councillor Ros Scotney said a building was recently opened in Clewley Park with toilets, showers, a kitchen, and a laundry for the homeless in Toowoomba.

This is part of a homelessness community action plan put in place by the council in conjunction with the Department of Communities, the Queensland Council of Social Service, and the local community.

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