HUNDREDS of locals have come together to lend a helping hand to those in need at Gunnedah’s annual homeless connect day.
Hosted by several community services, the event provides locals in need access to essential items such as donated clothing, a hot meal and free haircuts.
Gunnedah Family Support Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Veronica Rodenberg said the event was a huge success.
“Overall we had about 420 people turn up on the day,” Mrs Rodenberg said.
“The most pleasing thing I think from what I saw, was that the people who attended are those who could benefit most from an event like that.”
Mrs Rodenberg said the event also offered long-term solutions for people doing it tough.
“During the 2017-18 finical year we had 294 people access our homelessness service,” she said.
“Of those people 30.5 per cent were sleeping rough, so housing issues are a major issue within our region.
“That’s why it is so important to hold these events and allow those who need help to see what help is on offer long after this event is done.”
The new Gunnedah Family Support CEO said it was pleasing to see “people take some enjoyment” from the event.
“The day is actually part of our efforts during National Homelessness Week, which aims to put a spotlight on a national issue,” Mrs Rodenberg said.
“As well as the educational benefits, it was also pleasing to see people get some respite and some joy out of the day. Something as simple as a haircut can often be a person’s last priority.
“So for them to come and get a haircut, or a hot a meal, or a new book and get some pleasure out of it is really rewarding for us.”
Mrs Rodenberg said Gunnedah Family Support would continue to help locals in need.
“With 294 people accessing our homelessness service last year there is certainly a need for housing assistance,” she said.
“Of those people, a little over nine per cent were young people under the age of 16 who presented to us alone.
“While it was promising to see quite a few young people attend homeless connect day, there is still so much to do to help these young people.
“We will keep working hard and trying to shine a spotlight on the problem to our policy makers.”