Cold and dangerous.
That’s how Garry Manning described his experience of living on the streets in Campbelltown.
“You have to have your eyes open 24/7 so you don't get robbed or bashed. It happened to me numerous times when I was living on the streets,” he said.
“You find a place where you don't think that will happen but people seem to follow you.
“I spent three years (on the streets) and that’s long enough for me.”
Gary was one of dozens of people who had been homeless, were currently without a home, or on the cusp of homelessness, that gathered at Campbelltown Civic Centre today for the Macarthur Homeless Hub.
The hub, organised by the Macarthur Homeless Committee, brought together about 30 local service providers with the aim of helping those in need in the region.
The latest census said the number of homeless people in the region was just shy of 1000.
Mr Manning spent three years living on the streets before several local organisations including the Department of Human Services and Neami National helped find him accommodation three months ago.
He said he’d based himself at a few spots throughout Campbelltown during his time on the streets.
One of those was at a local church.
While he was grateful to the church for taking him in, he had to leave before the sun came up and workers arrived.
“That was at four in the morning,” he said.
“I was also outside CC’s nightclub – that’s closed down. I moved from there because I got bashed while I was sleeping.”
However, when a roof was put over his head three months ago, Mr Manning was able to close his eyes knowing he was safe and warm and wouldn’t have to vacate his room at the break of dawn.
“I had air con and everything … I think I slept in until 10am the first morning,” he said.
“I’m grateful … because we are in winter now and it’s getting very cold. Sleeping on a bed is a lot different to sleeping on a cement floor. On a cement floor the cold comes up through the floor and it’s very painful.”
Mr Manning said the Macarthur Homeless Hub provided a way to help those living on the streets make the transition from cold, concrete floor to a warm bed they could call their own.
Department of Human Services community engagement officer, Cathy Chopping, said the purpose of the hub was simple.
“The aim of the hub is to engage people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and to get them connected (with services),” she said.
“Just today we had two men who were rough sleepers who weren’t entitled to accommodation. So we referred them to a refuge in Sydney and gave them toiletries, a sleeping mat, a hair cut and an opal card so they could get there (to the refuge).”
The Macarthur Homeless Committee consists of several organisations including; Housing NSW; Macarthur Community Mental Health; the Department of Human Services; Vinnies Case Management; Doorways for Youth; and NEAMI.
Services who had a stall at the hub included: Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard; Turning Point Camden; Shining Star; Maratha Katta Australia; Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation; Lifeline; Hume Housing and Argyle Housing.
The Nagle Centre put on a three-course lunch while Western Sydney University students provided free health checks.
Anyone who may be homeless or at risk of homelessness is urged to contact Sector Connect on 4648 5933 or at sectorconnect.org.au.