Heat and smoke relief for people who are homeless

With extreme heat and poor air quality expected today, people experiencing homelessness will be given free movie tickets, water bottles, and increased access to places where they can keep cool.

​Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the most vulnerable people in our community are at particular risk from extreme heat and this long-term program operates on very hot days throughout summer.

“Extreme weather such as heatwaves can be particularly hard for people who are homeless and have limited access to cool places where they can beat the heat,” the Lord Mayor said.

“On top of this, poor air quality can be very hard for people who don’t have somewhere to shelter – particularly if they experience respiratory or other health difficulties.

“The City of Melbourne provides relief from extreme heat to people who are homeless through free water bottles, pool and cinema passes, and of course our libraries.

“On extreme heat days the Salvation Army’s Lighthouse Café at 69 Bourke Street, stays open all day and all night to provide additional shelter from the heat and smoke.”

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast extreme temperatures for today with a high of 43 degrees expected followed by a minimum tomorrow morning of 23 degrees.

The EPA has also forecast “poor” air quality in Melbourne today.

Chair of the People City portfolio Councillor Beverley Pinder said extreme heat can affect anyone, but some people were particularly vulnerable, including people over 65, people with a medical condition, pregnant women, and people who are homeless.

“Drinking plenty of water, taking it easy and having somewhere cool to rest are important for everyone during extreme heat, but particularly for people who may be vulnerable,” Cr Pinder said.

“Being able to escape the heat of the day by seeing a film or relaxing in an air conditioned room can help prevent someone from becoming seriously unwell.

“Please take extra care if you’re out and about today – such as people attending the tennis – and remember to check in on neighbours, and keep an eye on children and pets during the heat.”

The City of Melbourne’s Daily Support Team provides proactive, on-street support for people sleeping rough in the city, and works closely with service providers to reach out to clients known to have respiratory health and other medical issues.

The City of Melbourne helps fund free medical services through the cohealth Street Doctor project. People experiencing homelessness can also access free allied health services at Central City Community Health, 53 Victoria Street, which is open until 4pm on weekdays.

The City of Melbourne offers the following programs as part of its Heatwave Response Plan:

Cool Places Program – The Salvation Army’s Lighthouse Café at 69 Bourke Street, Melbourne will remain open 24 hours today. It is normally closed between 1.30pm and 4pm. Arrangements are in place to open the café as required during extreme weather events until 30 April 2020.

Movie Pass program – Free movie tickets will be available to people affected by homelessness during heatwaves. Homelessness service providers will distribute the passes up until 30 April 2020.

Pool Pass Program – People experiencing homelessness will be given free passes which they can use at any of the City of Melbourne’s four aquatic facilities. These are the Melbourne City Baths, North Melbourne Recreation Centre, Carlton Gardens Recreation Centre, and Kensington Community Recreation Centre.

Water bottles – On days of extreme heat, homelessness service providers distribute free water bottles to people experiencing homelessness until 30 April 2020.

There are more than 60 water fountains across the city as part of a joint initiative between VicHealth and the City of Melbourne. These are at prominent sites such as Swanston Street, the Bourke Street Mall and the Tan Track.

You can find a map of the drinking fountains on the City of Melbourne website, and there is a smartphone app Choose Tap which will help you locate the nearest water fountain.

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