Proposal for homeless overnight shelter in Coffs Harbour to re-fuel, rest and recover

A Coffs resident makes his home up as best he can.


SETTING up an emergency overnight shelter for the homeless in Coffs Harbour is a project being undertaken by locals Doris Cowan and a handful of self-less volunteers.

“The places that already exist for assistance are at capacity and do not cover overnight stays with a team of support community volunteers who are willing to go above and beyond to help people to have a better quality of life,” Doris told News Of The Area.

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Doris and Christine are modelling their Coffs plan on the successfully operational Bathurst United church which has run this project over the winter months 2018 and 2019 but was closed by the pandemic.

With support services rallying to the pair’s requests for professional volunteers and supplies, the key requirement is premises.

“I have applied to CHCC for a night-time lease,” said Doris.

“Our application states the premises will be used as accommodation for the homeless with the aim to support getting them back into the community through a range of community volunteers including church members, GPs, social workers, mental health and nursing students.

“My proposal requires use of the building between the hours of 5pm and 8am daily, complying with gate closure regulations; our doors will be closed at 8pm sharp with no entry or exit ‘til morning.

“All participants will be screened for drugs and alcohol on arrival as zero tolerance is a requirement of check in.”

The shelter will operate with the homeless checking into the shelter between 5pm and 8pm nightly where they are greeted by a supervisor for the night.

“This could include a church father/pastor, meth clinic worker, member of Flourish Australia, Salvation Army Officer and/or Medical Professional,” said Doris.

Participants are not to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“They then have a meal that has been cooked in advance by volunteers, a shower and a bed for the night.

“The supervisor and volunteers join the participants for dinner and then stay on call for the night.

“In the morning the guests can either use donated vouchers from local businesses or if the premises allow can help prepare their own breakfast,” said Doris.

Doris told News Of The Area what is needed to action the project.

“A permanent space that has showers, toilets, full functioning kitchen and bedding.

“Insurance will either have to come from the owner of the space or there be separate insurance for the project.

“A steering and financial committee.

“A Facebook page to allow for funding and volunteers.

“Donations of perishables, food, clothing, bathroom items, bedding and blankets,” said Doris.

To date, food donations for meals have been offered by OzHarvest.




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