8 December 2023

More volunteers needed for annual winter homeless shelter

Hundreds of volunteers make Stable One’s winter homeless shelter program possible. Photo: Stable One

Maya Pilbrow

17 April 2023

A Melbourne charity is asking local churches to help with its annual winter homeless shelter program.

Stable One provides homelessness services across the Yarra Valley. The organisation coordinates overnight accommodation for people experiencing homelessness for 13 weeks every winter.

Founder and managing director Jenny Willetts said the winter shelter program relied on seven churches each taking responsibility for providing accommodation for one night of the week.

“We still need one, we need Tuesday nights filled,” she said.

Mrs Willetts said the program was at its most successful when people had a chance to develop a sense of community.

“The Church has more to offer than just putting a roof over people’s heads,” she said. “It’s about sitting down together for a meal, about connecting with people who show up.”

Read more: Church food store opens shower service

St John’s Lilydale parish priest the Reverend Matthew Connolly said the pandemic had affected how the program had been run.

“The winter night shelter hasn’t been happening in the same way, in different churches, for the last three years,” he said.

Mr Connolly said St John’s was not one of the seven venue churches that would host guests this year, but that the parish had contributed in other ways.

“We’ve had fundraisers, we’re asking for volunteers,” he said.

In 2019 the shelter program cost more than $50,000 to run. According to a project summary Stable One received an estimated $196,000 worth of volunteer hours, donated food and utilities.

Volunteers and donations for this year were still needed, Mrs Willetts said.

“I’m not panicking yet! We’ve got individuals fundraising and donating, churches donating,” she said. “Money comes from all over the place, which is great.”

Stable One’s Yarra Valley Winter Shelter runs from 1 June to 31 August. See stableone.org/volunteer/ for more information.

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