More support proposed to connect grassroots charities

A plan to better coordinate grassroots charities so they can improve how they help people sleeping rough is set to be considered by City of Melbourne Councillors.

The plan to be considered by Councillors on Tuesday includes a recommendation to appoint an established homelessness agency to work with grassroots charities. The agency would help charities work with people experiencing homelessness and complex issues.

City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said it was important to harness the goodwill behind dozens of grassroots charities operating across the city.

“With better coordination and support from experienced homelessness agencies, these grassroots charities can make a more significant impact and help rough sleepers improve their lives in the long term,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’re working hard to find more ways to connect grassroots charities with long-term housing and support services. The aim is for charities providing short-term support on the street to link rough sleepers with long term support to get them off the streets.”

The grassroots charities offer support such as meals, haircuts, clothing and bedding to rough sleepers, along with larger operations that offer shower and laundry facilities.

A more coordinated approach would reduce the duplication of services and provide better support in identified locations throughout the municipality where people who sleep rough are more likely to access services.

Chair of the People City portfolio Cr Beverley Pinder said people who volunteer for grassroots charities often do not know how to help direct people in need, to longer-term support and housing options.

“This plan will link people who are sleeping on the streets or experiencing homelessness with the services they need, to support them in navigating their way out of homelessness and into housing,” Cr Pinder said.

“We’re focussed on providing holistic support for people who are homeless and sleeping on the streets, but at the same time we need a more coordinated approach from Federal and State governments to create more long-term housing options.”

The report to be considered recommends a three-stage approach, including the creation of Best Practice Guidelines and training for staff and volunteers on working with people experiencing homelessness and complex issues.

Stage two would introduce a model to better coordinate the work of grassroots initiatives, and oversee how they interact in the central city. If required, stage three, would see the City of Melbourne investigate the introduction of a voluntary accreditation or a registration system and an operating protocol.

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