The heart of the West End

Imagine being homeless at Christmas. Waking on the street, or if you are lucky on someone’s lounge, to witness what seems like the rest of the world rushing from one family event to the next, groaning with their over consumption of festive fare and at the day’s end travelling home in a car packed with presents.

Wesley Mission  (1)

For those with no home, or family, Christmas can be one of the loneliest times of the year, a solitary day which re-enforces an oft-felt sense of social isolation and personal failure. For homeless families shame is often added to this catalogue of crushing emotions, a sad reflection that two generations of people are now suffering from a housing crisis. In such a situation it can seem impossible to dream of a different future, one filled with kindness and navigated by hope. Enter the Wesley Mission.

For the past 40 years in Newcastle the Mission’s commitment to ‘honour God, serve people and build hope’ has been doing just that. Their pioneering and diverse range of services caters to everyone from children, young adults and families to older people and carers. These services include: financial counselling, practical support for the homeless, targeted services for those struggling with addiction of any kind, community visiting schemes for the lonely, real-world support for people struggling with mental health or chronic domestic problems.

They champion a holistic approach for their clients, one which creates long-term solutions. For the homeless they provide transitional accommodation and practical support including emergency beds in over 80 properties throughout Newcastle and the Lower Hunter. But the ultimate aim of their homelessness services is to eliminate the barriers to their clients finding and maintaining long-term accommodation. Their Oasis Drop-in Centre is a dedicated area providing food vouchers and parcels, counselling and referral, but it is also a place where the on-the-ground practical help so desperately needed is provided: access to food, showers, toilets and laundry facilities.

Wesley Mission outreaches into almost every section of the community and operates 365 days a year. You can donate to support a particular service, or volunteer your time or expertise; the Mission confirms they always have volunteering opportunities available.

As the grace of Christmas settles on Newcastle the Wesley Mission will be there, providing help without judgement and embodying founder John Wesley’s compassionate prayer:

‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.’

Wesley Mission, 15 Denison Street and 16 Wood Street, Newcastle West NSW 2302. www.wesleymission.org.au

Kimberly O’Sullivan

Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires and infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me: kimberly@netspace.net.au; 0413 250 155.

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