A RAWCS Solution
A talk by Gary Richards, RC Engadine
A RAWCS Solution
A talk by Gary Richards, RC Engadine
The homeless in destitute in Australia are sometimes spotted by
busy Australians getting about their business in a prosperous
country. But most people hardly pause to think about it, leaving the
homeless to their makeshift beds in doorways or elsewhere.
According to the 2016 Census there are over 116,000 homeless
people in Australia, defined as people who live rough or couch-surf
or who live in vehicles or in dormitory accommodation. This number
is estimated to be growing particularly in line with economic
conditions. Gary Richards, president of the Rotary Club of Engadine,
has long been aware of the problem. For the last 20 years, his club
has organised a seven-day bike-ride from Hornsby to Newcastle,
involving between 100 and 200 people. The amount raised in that
time, coming to $3.5 million, has gone to a street kids program,
aiming to arrest the homelessness problem at its outset. “We have
been round to previous riders asking whether they wanted to do it
again this year and the hands shot up,” Gary told the RAWCS Eastern
Region conference at Bankstown in August. The immediate objective
was to feed the homeless, by giving them nutritious meals and
human services.
(Gary and son Andrew supporting Sharks)
Gary, an accountant by profession, has spent his working life
planning hospitals. He works a lot with statistics but he is unsure how
the census deals with homeless people. And the homeless are not
just those sleeping on park benches or couch-surfing. Forty-four
percent are living in conditions of severe overcrowding and 80
percent are in conditions that are only temporary. Gary and One
Meal came into contact. One Meal is a charity whose mission was to
provide healthy nutritious meals and human services to homeless,
impoverished and underprivileged people, as well as assisting in
advancing well-being, outlook on life and future prospects. It was
formed by a group of friends in 2014. The first One Meal service
provided was Christmas dinner for homeless people in the Green
Park area. It has gone on to serve food for the homeless and needy in
what is now 11 sites across Sydney, including Blacktown, Kingsgrove,
Riverwood, Darlinghurst, Minto and Sutherland. Staffed entirely by
volunteers, it provides meals, fruit, dessert, breakfast packs and
personal care packs. There is also need to provide a nursing service.
(The needy lining up)
One Meal asked Rotary Engadine for financial support to purchase a
van for its work. The club registered the purchase of a One Meal van
as an RACG project for 2020/21. It made a submission to RAWCS to
fund a One Meal van. Some good vans were available for $18,000
but then covid had hit and the prices went up. A van could not be
acquired for less than $30,000. The Engadine Rotary Club had already
had experience with providing a van. In 2018, it had taken up the
case of Thomas Wormealton, an eight-year-old boy who had
muscular atrophy, was unable to move without a wheelchair, and
needed a modified vehicle that he could access without using ramps.
The club registered this as a RABS project and discussed it with a
local motor dealer, which identified a suitable vehicle, a Kia Carnival,
costing $28,000. Purchase of the vehicle became a joint project
between Rotary and Lionesses, the latter raising $16,000 on a single
night. The vehicle was acquired and was ready for use in September,
The $4,450 was left over was then dedicated to purchasing a van for
One Meal. The club applied to RAWCS for a grant of $9,000, which
was approved. Sufficient money was raised and a 2008-model van
was purchased for $20,000. “It soon became apparent that covid
restrictions and requirements would not allow the proposed nursing
service to become a reality and nurses could not be attracted at that
time anyway,” Gary said. “So instead, a new One Meal service into
Engadine was setup. It is now into its third week and already 20
homeless/needy people are arriving for food every Wednesday
evening. This number is expected to rise as the service becomes
more widely known and accepted. A planned adjunct to Engadine
One Meal is a soup Kitchen service delivered, using the
RAWCS/Engadine Rotary-funded van, directly into the Royal and
Heathcote National Parks where 30-plus people are known to live.”
But there were plans in hand to provide nurses who would give first
aid and basic medical services to homeless people and doctors could
also use the van to provide services