More than 500 pairs of police boots have been donated as part of a charity drive to support people experiencing homelessness across NSW, NSW Police say.
NSW Police launched the drive with Mission Australia during Homelessness Week last month – an annual Homelessness Australia campaign – to raise awareness of the issues people experiencing homelessness face each day.
As part of the initiative, officers from local area commands across the state donated their second-hand police boots throughout the month of August, which were collected by Mission Australia and distributed to those in need.
NSW Police Central Metropolitan Region Spokesperson for Vulnerable Communities, Superintendent Allan Sicard, said commands and specialist units across the state were fantastic in their support.
“We ran the same charity drive last year and collected 300 pairs of boots so it’s incredibly humbling that we have nearly doubled that number and so many officers were able to make this gesture to help some of the most vulnerable living people in our community,” Supt Sicard said.
“The leather boots are very comfortable; they’re of great quality and certainly have plenty of life left in them.
Supt Sicard said police work closely with other government and non-government resources to respond to issues associated with homelessness and assist with referrals to relevant support services.
“When working with vulnerable people, our most important role is putting them in touch with helpful service providers so they can be adequately supported.
“We also need to focus on early intervention. It’s far more effective to prevent homelessness before it starts so programs that provide early assistance for families and children are integral to tackling this issue,” Supt Sicard said.
“One of the biggest things we find is people are embarrassed of being at risk of becoming homeless and don’t ask for help early enough.
“Unfortunately, a simple life event such as an unpaid bill, a medical emergency or a poor decision can put people at risk of homelessness. If people ask for help, early specialist homeless services can intervene and prevent individuals and families from living on the street,” Supt Sicard said.
Supt Sicard said it’s important to recognise that people experiencing homelessness are valuable members of our community too, and often they’ve been left with impossible choices that have contributed to their living situations.
“Homelessness is a complicated issue and there are many social, economic and health-related factors that can lead to homelessness. Family and domestic violence is the single largest cause, but other contributing aspects include a shortage of affordable housing, financial problems, unemployment, serious illness or drug/alcohol problems,” Supt Sicard said.
Mission Australia State Director, Ben Carblis, thanked the NSW Police Force for their generosity.
“It’s great to see this partnership between Mission Australia and the NSW Police Force delivering more than 500 pairs of high-quality boots to people experiencing homelessness.
“The people we support are often living in tough conditions and this partnership provides some comfort and dignity while Mission Australia and other services work to provide long-term supports and exits out of homelessness.
“We thank the local area commands across NSW for stepping up and gathering such a large number of boots, while also bringing attention to the vast numbers of people experiencing homelessness. Reducing homelessness is a big job and we’ll make the most headway when our community works together,” Mr Carblis said.
If you, or someone you know, is seeking information on homelessness services you can call Link2Home on 1800 152 152.
Link2Home is a single, state-wide telephone service for homelessness inquiries in NSW that offers access to specialised support and accommodation services.