Homelessness only two pay packets and a family break up away

IF LEVELS of winter hardship for Lismore's homeless were measured in blankets, then this winter has been the toughest in recent history.

According to President of the Lismore Soup Kitchen Meike Bell, this winter the Winsome has given away an unprecedented 20 blankets a week during the recent cold snap.

"That's certainly a bigger demand than I've ever seen. Then there are also those who are not homeless but ask for blankets. They are just too poor to be in a position to buy them."

All blankets and warm clothes are donated from the wider community.

Lifestyle choice?

In the 25 years that Ms Bell has been working with homeless people she is aware of only one person for whom homelessness was a genuine lifestyle choice.

"I don't agree with the misconception that there are those people who prefer to be homeless.

"Homelessness is dangerous. They risk their stuff being stolen or else they have to carry their belongings around, which labels them as homeless and makes them vulnerable. There is a lot of shame attached."

"At the Winsome we stash their stuff in a safe place," she said.

It could be you

According to Ms Bell, the difference between the average person and a homeless person these days is 'two pay packets and a family break up'.

"Recently I spoke to a man with that story. He said he never imagined that he would ever be homeless," she said.

At the Lismore Chamber of Commerce Awards last week The Winsome and Lismore Soup Kitchen was awarded the Darcy Goodwin Community Service Award.

The Winsome and Lismore Soup Kitchen runs on volunteers and donations. At present its major fundraiser is the 500 Club.

The aim is to get 500 people donating $10 per week to support the Winsome's necessary operations. At present the charity only has 300 locals signed up.