WINTER: Central Highlanders, especially people without proper shelter, are dealing with cold weather.
WINTER: Central Highlanders, especially people without proper shelter, are dealing with cold weather.

Homeless suffer most from chilly weather

RUGGING up in the morning is becoming more necessary in the Central Highlands now that minimum temperatures have dropped to single digits.

But for those without homes or sufficient clothing, the need for warmth is imperative.

Chelsi Massey from Emerald's Lifeline shop has worked at Lifeline for more than eight years.

She said the stores were "community hubs where vulnerable people could come out and talk", and that given greater demand during cold weather, Emerald's shelves were beginning to fill with winter stock.

"We have plenty of winter blankets put out," Mrs Massey said.

"For the last three weeks I've had a lot of people chasing blankets and winter workwear. A lot of backpackers come through.

"The majority of the customers in the past couple of weeks have come from properties. We welcome anyone to come in to see if we can help them out."

Emerald Neighbourhood Centre community connect coordinator Amanda McNamara said that the risk is "definitely higher" during winter.

"It's not a nice time for our homeless clients," she said.

"They're sleeping down by the river. Their mental health declines as well just by the fact that there's no housing.

"We have blankets here which we donate to all people that need it. Sometimes if we have tents we'll supply tents.

Mrs McNamara said that there were between 10 and 15 homeless people in Emerald at the moment, a number that had recently increased, and that Centrelink payments provided an extra layer of support.

"Homelessness has definitely been on the rise," she said, "but I'm finding because of the extra COVID money with Centrelink, they're doing okay.

"They're receiving that extra support."



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