Safer sleep for our homeless

Project Manager Margaret Seumanu, WestCare Director Andrew Paech and Penrith MP Stuart Ayres at the new homeless crisis accommodation. Photo: Megan Dunn
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After months of hard work and tireless fundraising efforts, WestCare Community Services’ 1000 Safe Sleeps project will launch next week.

From Wednesday, March 29, the homeless crisis accommodation units will safely house locals as they transition into long term residence.

Director Andrew Paech said the project fills a large gap in the homelessness cycle in the Penrith area.

“We’ve supported a number of homelessness initiatives over the years but we’ve identified the real need in the homelessness to home cycle was at the initial period,” he said.

“For many, the initial emergency phase for people is in places of accommodation that are less than ideal.

“There needs to be comfortable, safe spaces to help them get off on really good footing as the permanent housing comes through.

“If you’re battling mental health, it’s been proven that if you have a safe space, there is a much higher probability that there will be a more permanent solution.”

The units will support four people per night for a period of up to three nights in an attempt to end homelessness in the local community.

Mr Paech praised the selfless work of the local community and Project Manager Margaret Seumanu.

“The Coffee Club Nepean River raised $80,000 in one night from the business community in Penrith,” Mr Paech said.

“Since then, we’ve managed to get more support on board with really good deals and with labour donated.

Inside the new facility. Photo: Megan Dunn

“Penrith MP Stuart Ayres and the NSW Government Community Building Grant were able to provide the railing out the front for safety.

“Just that alone has brought the housing up to current Council safety standards and brought it up in aesthetics.”

The housing service will provide easy to cook meals as well as full laundry facilities to help create a safe, homely environment.

“That’s been a huge part of the focus. During that crazy time, they will actually feel like it’s a home,” Mr Paech said.

“There’s really nothing like this accommodation that I am aware of in this sector of this level.”

Mr Paech said the shared vision to end homelessness in the community is responsible for the success of the program.

Inside the new facility. Photo: Megan Dunn

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