Pumpkin soup. Shepherd's Pie. Banana cake with custard.
That was the lunch-time menu last Tuesday at the Salvos Life Centre where 80 homeless people came in from the cold for a meal.
Enter Adam and June. They're best buddies. Just as well … because for more than a year they've been sleeping in Adam's car, a beaten up old Magna. Adam in the front, June in the back. Their only protection against the cold, a doona each. Adam says the car is so old that when it rains water leaks in. Onto his 'bed'.
Adam and June used to have a cheap little rental place they could manage on their disability pension, plus a little money Adam brought in stacking shelves at a supermarket.
But when their landlord said they had three weeks to move because he wanted to knock down the house, Adam and June had nowhere to go. With no place to shower or get a decent sleep, it's impossible to present yourself properly for work. So Adam's supermarket job disappeared, and with it the little bit of money that kept them going.
Now, Adam and June have to use the public toilets at the local shopping centre as their bathroom. Their only food is what they receive from the Salvos.
Hot lunches and blankets on their own aren't going to solve the problems facing people like Adam and June. The waiting list for public housing is 16 years. If you're at extreme risk the waiting list is still 12 – 18 months. This is why, right now, The Salvation Army are building more Crisis Accommodation centres across Australia.
No matter how hard Salvos work to provide emergency beds, there's still people who will miss out.
That's why there's more than just Shepherd's Pie on the menu at Salvos Centres. Volunteers, trained workers, Salvos officers, provide warmth and caring love.
Sandra Nottle, a Salvos officer who runs a Life Centre serving 1,200 meals a week, says “All of us here are family.”
That doesn't make things easy. What Sandra's noticed this winter is a lot more families, and 'first-timers' “They're past desperate when they arrive. One thing is certain though: “We will not turn anyone away. Ever.”
You can help people like Adam and June with your donation to the Red Shield Appeal. Thank you!