Visitors trickled through the Linking Together Centre yard on Tuesday, August 28 for a Community Connect Day focusing on homelessness services.
Although hot soup, a barbecue and free toys were on offer, the event struggled to attract a crowd.
Staff member Taylor Ellis felt there were several reasons for the quiet day, including the cold weather, the timing during work hours and a lack of prior notice.
She worried that some might struggle to overcome the stigma associated with homelessness, or to ask for help.
“There is no judgement over here,” she said.
Inverell Shire councillor Paul King said he felt many locals were unaware, or didn’t want to believe there are homeless people in town.
“Homelessness is everywhere,” he said.
“The definition of homelessness is not necessarily somebody sleeping under the stars under a bridge somewhere. It’s someone that might be couch surfing or sleeping on somebody’s front porch or somebody’s laundry or so forth - they just haven’t got anywhere to call home.”
Mental health services, housing programs and New England Police were all there to offer their assistance. Family and Community Services offered sleeping bags for those living rough, and hygiene packs were given out.
Cr King said he was impressed by the wide range of services on offer for those with insecure living situations.
“I know years ago when I ran the Linking Together Centre, there wasn’t a great deal out there for homeless people, and now look at it. There’d be about 10 or 12 different services here,” he said.
He encouraged those who attended to let others know about the many local services on offer for homeless people, or those at risk of becoming homeless.