Extra beds for Perth’s homeless

Client Lee Ricciardo posing with HAND president and founder Tanya Cairns.
Client Lee Ricciardo posing with HAND president and founder Tanya Cairns.

MORE homeless people will have shelter from Perth⿿s cold nights after 12 swags were given to a Merriwa charity to house the growing numbers sleeping rough.

Funds for the much-needed bedding were raised by the Mindarie Rotary Club through its fortnightly swap mart at the Ocean Keys Shopping Centre.

HAND (homeless, at risk, needy and disadvantaged) founder Tanya Cairns said every bed counted as they were now providing for more homeless people travelling north to escape violence and trouble brewing in CBD and Northbridge streets.

“This will do 12 people immediately,” Ms Cairns said.

“It’s a huge step for us to get swags… they’d otherwise get sleeping bags and sleep on the floor or just sit there with a blanket and a pillow.”

Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts said the Rotary Club, of which she is a founding member, wanted to help the local group caring for the homeless in the area.

“The (homeless) community here is growing too and it’s actually people who are educated and families have fallen apart, they’ve lost their jobs and they’ve just lost that will and they’re homeless; it’s tragic, it’s very sad,” Mrs Roberts said.

The donation follows the launch of a joint investigation into homelessness by the cities of Wanneroo and Joondalup to address the issue and consider facilities such as a drop-in centre.

Mrs Roberts said rather than local governments trying to decide how to tackle the problem alone, they were involving organisations in-the- know to ensure the best outcome.

“It’s saying, right, we need to know all the facts, warts and all, we need to know what we’re facing and what the real issues are and what we need,” she said. “Rather than being isolated from that we need to really get down and totally understand what the need is so that we can help.”

The inquiry was progressing with council staff putting together an action group, which would report back to the council.

“It’s not something that we can drag our feet with,” Mrs Roberts said.

“This is something that needs real action as soon as we possibly can but we are going to make informed decisions. And I think it’s important for them to know that people care about them.”

Ms Cairns said while 10 years ago there may have been 100 to 200 homeless in the area, the cities now needed to accommodate numbers ranging from 500 to 800 people.

“It’s a growing concern and to get an outreach centre of some sort going, which is my main aim at the moment, would be so fantastic,” she said.

“People could have a cup of coffee, go to the little library corner and read a book, play a game of cards with others and make friends. In one place, we could offer drug and alcohol counselling services, domestic violence services and mental health services.

“We’ll be there doing everything we always do and that’s look after the homeless in any way that we can.”