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In 2015 we became aware of a group of people who were living on the riverbank at North Ipswich. They had been sleeping rough for at least two years. It was a cold Winter and we wanted to help as best we could, so we purchased backpack swags and sleeping bags to give to them. We arranged to meet them one Monday at Brown’s Park for a BBQ lunch. Unfortunately, the first time we met we were only able to hand out the swags because the sleeping bags hadn’t arrived in time. We arranged to meet them the next Monday for another BBQ to hand out the sleeping bags. After talking with the group, we decided that we would start coming every Monday to run a BBQ.
Since that time, with the help of Rent Connect, the group living on the riverbank were able to move into stable accommodation. One couple keeps in contact with us and are still living in the same town house at Redbank.
The BBQ lunch still runs every Monday. Each week we have anywhere between 20 and 40 people attend. Of those who attend, some are sleeping rough, some are couch surfing, some live in the local boarding houses and some are in stable housing but struggle to have enough money for food each week. There are people who come every week and others we only see occasionally.
There are often people who come who have only just become homeless for the first time in their life and they hear about our BBQ through word of mouth. We help them as best we can. Where possible we provide them with a backpack swag and in winter give them a sleeping bag as well. We also help point them to other service providers that can assist them to find stable housing. Just this year there was a Mum sleeping in her car with her 5 children (aged 10 to 16 years). We were able to help them find stable accommodation and they are now living in a rental house.
The free community BBQ lunch runs every Monday (except Public holidays) from 11.30 am at Browns Park, North Ipswich (Canning Street side).