FROM hair cuts to housing assistance, from eye tests to legal advice – help was on hand on Wednesday for those doing it tough in the Hunter.
About 1000 of the region’s most-in-need residents had the chance to connect with essential services at the annual Hunter Homeless Connect Day at Newcastle Showground Exhibition Centre.
The day has grown each year since it began in 2009 and is run by Hunter Homeless Connect, a volunteer not-for-profit organisation which aims to make the event an inclusive community with zero judgement.
They do so by providing a one-stop shop of services in a welcoming and respectful environment.
Some services are vital, many give an immediate boost and others show ways to move forward.
Attending the event for the first time was Cameron Nable, who has been homeless for the past three months since a relationship split.
“I’m here today to try and find a bit of stable accommodation for myself and see what else is around that can help me out, get me back on my feet and get me stabilized,” he said.
Mr Nable, 23, said he was lucky to be taken in by a friend after the separation but “takes off from time to time” to give the friend some space and ensure he does not outstay his welcome.
He said the event would help many locate services they either never knew existed or are not able to find.
“Especially when you go into a difficult situation, it’s harder to go out and look for it yourself,” he said. “My friends who I am staying with, they’re the ones who brought me here today.”
Likewise, Newcastle woman ‘Jackie’ was a first-time attendee who had heard of the event via word of mouth and came with a friend, ‘Cate’, who had been before.
Both currently live in a boarding house but were there to learn about what is available “if things go bad”.
“It’s my worst worry, homelessness,” Jackie said.
“Being a woman on the street with nowhere to go – I’ve got no family.”
Jackie said her fears of living on the streets included “being robbed, getting sick, and laying on the street and what people think of you”.
Reach Homeless Services chief executive, Gary Parsisson, said the once-a-year event helps connect people with more regular assistance.
“It’s an opportunity to educate all the people who are attending where they can get those things,” he said.
“I think it’s really critical that people have almost a daily checklist of this is where I can go, these are the services I can access, these are the people I can talk to, this where I can get a swag or a blanket.”