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Making room for women needing a safe place to stay

Do you have a room with heart?

by Susanna Freymark, 06/10/2021, 2 min read

TWO Kyogle women are united in doing something about how the housing crisis is impacting women.

Lynda Clark and Wendy Bolden are not waiting for the state government to act, for funding policies to change or for more refuges to be built.

They see the crisis and they are taking action to be part of a solution.

Lynda regularly goes to the Kyogle Amphitheatre and the caravan park at the showgrounds at dusk to see if she can assist homeless people.

“There are usually about eight people sleeping rough around the amphitheatre,” Lynda said.

She leaves knitted scarfs and beanies and Wendy plans to ask the Men’s Shed to make a box where supplies can be left for those sleeping rough.

“I feel the cold and I feel sorry for the people in the cold in winter,” Wendy said.

“It’s a growing problem and we need to do something about it.”

Lynda said she is driven to help the homeless situation because she sees “the absolute need”.

“I’ve never been homeless but I’ve looked at it down the barrel,” the former nurse said.

Lynda is a CWA member and she attempted to have a motion listed at the state conference for the nationwide group to do something about housing for women.

She’ll have to wait a year for the next state conference for her motion to be considered.

Instead, Wendy and Lynda are organising Denise Hunter from Safe Haven to have a conversation with Kyogle residents about opening their homes and offering a room in their house for less than a month at a time as emergency housing for women.

Safe Haven is a national charity based on the Gold Coast and says that across Australia there are 7.2 million spare rooms in private homes that are vacant for 90% of the year.

Safe Haven maintains a national database of community members who donate their spare rooms to women who need a safe place to stay.

The rooms are for women at risk of domestic abuse who need to leave a situation before it escalates.

Currently there are only four rooms available on the Northern Rivers.

Lynda and Wendy hope that Kyogle residents will come to the discussion with Denise and think about offering a room to someone in need of a safe place to stay.

Safe Haven’s team conducts an in-depth risk and needs assessment to determine suitability. Criminal checks and security checks are done and a case worker is available to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Safe havens are an emergency measure and an important one.

Other women – and men – are homeless not through domestic violence but through “no fault of their own”, Wendy said.

Local councils and state and federal governments can step up and develop more solutions for long-term housing security for those most in need.

Denise Hunter from Safe Haven will be speaking at St Brigid's School Hall, Wyangarie St, Kyogle on June 23 at 7.30pm. Entry is free.

HOMELESS STATS

1 in 200 people are homeless

56% are male

44% female

17,845 children under 10 are homeless

402 children sleep rough each night

The report on homelessness can be found at here