Anti-Poverty Week: HAND helps homeless people across northern suburbs

HAND founder Tanya Cairns provides toiletries, food and essentials to people who are homeless. Picture: Martin Kennealey d487706
HAND founder Tanya Cairns provides toiletries, food and essentials to people who are homeless. Picture: Martin Kennealey d487706

A SUPPORT group for people who are homeless, or at risk of becoming so, has grown to help hundreds of people over the past four years.

Merriwa resident Tanya Cairns started HAND (Homeless, At risk, Needy, Disadvantaged) in 2014 to provide people with toiletries, food packs and swags or sleeping bags to help them survive while living on the streets, in parks or in the bush.

Ms Cairns said her clientele list was nearly up to 300, including 15 struggling families in the 6030 postcode area – which includes Merriwa, Clarkson, Ridgewood, Quinns Rocks and Mindarie.

“We’ve got several families that are on the poverty line,” she said.

“It’s really sad to see that people have got that far; it’s something that shouldn’t exist but unfortunately it does.”

Ms Cairns said the HAND outreach service helped connect people with other services and helped families in need plan a budget.

She said the group was dealing with homelessness at a grassroots level across the northern suburbs – from Hillarys to Two Rocks to Midland and Ellenbrook.

Every Friday, she is based at the Salvation Army Merriwa, on Jenolan Way from 9am to 1pm for assessments, and people do not need healthcare cards to see her.

Ms Cairns has also set up a drug action team with MercyCare at the Merriwa Community Hub on Lansdowne Place.

After running out of space to store donations at her home, Ms Cairns relocated to a premises with a shed earlier this year, and the groups also has a mobile trailer to help distribute donations.

HAND has also set up a safe car park system to let people living in their cars know where they can stay overnight.

For more information or help, call 0414 682 269 or visit .

HAND founder and president Tanya Cairns (Merriwa) with Zara in the storage shed for the charity’s supplies. Picture: Martin Kennealey

Anti-Poverty Week

THE City of Wanneroo has highlighted the extent of poverty and hardship for Anti-Poverty Week, which runs until October 20.

A statement said poverty and severe hardship affected more than a million Australians, and around the world more than a billion people were desperately poor.

It said many different factors influenced poverty in the community, such as a lack of employment and regular income, low levels of education, health issues and housing costs.

Access to affordable community services such as financial counselling, rent assistance and food relief, is an important element in preventing poverty.

Mayor Tracey Roberts said the City worked closely with its local government neighbours, various charities and community services to provide support to those dealing with poverty within the community.

“During Homelessness Week this year, the cities of Wanneroo and Joondalup worked in partnership to host ‘In the Blink of an Eye’, an event aimed at reducing the negative stigma around homelessness,” she said.

“The response to this event was very positive and resulted in a number of attendees offering to volunteer their time to assist those that are disadvantaged within their local community.”

Visit a City of Wanneroo community centre or library or the City’s website to learn about available local hardship support services.

The City encouraged residents to host or take part in local anti-poverty activities during Anti-Poverty Week.

Visit for more information.