Zest Award for ending homelessness project

Hawkesbury City Council is proudly supporting an exciting award-winning project called ‘Heading Home - Ending Homelessness’, which was launched by Wentworth Community Housing, Platform Youth Services and Mission Australia, together with Mercy Foundation at Windsor RSL in 2016.

The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Mary Lyons-Buckett, congratulated everyone involved in the project which has just won a 2017 Zest Award for Exceptional Community Partnership across a Region.

The Zest Awards, now in their seventh year, are the premier community sector awards for Greater Western Sydney which "honour and celebrate the achievements of the vibrant and diverse Western Sydney community" according to the Patron, Premier of NSW, The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian.

The project is bringing together specialist homelessness services, local businesses, real estate agents, volunteer groups and government to identify the most vulnerable people in our community to work together and provide the housing and support that people need to maintain a home.

"Heading Home is the largest and most diverse homelessness partnership in NSW which aims to end chronic homelessness in Penrith, the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury," the Mayor said.

"As part of this aim, Heading Home took to the streets to identify every homeless person in the Hawkesbury learn about their health and housing needs and to find a home and offer support for every person.

"It is about engaging with our community to end homelessness," Councillor Mary Lyons-Buckett added.

"Heading Home is different from anything done before because it is not just a survey of homelessness but an ambitious partnership to change community views and to generate innovative housing solutions."

The Mayor also congratulated Hills resident Chris Cleary from StreetMed Incorporated, who won a Zest Award for Outstanding Community Leader – Voluntary Capacity. Her Zest nomination was supported by Council staff.

"In 2014, Chris Cleary founded StreetMed, a registered Not-For-Profit organisation, and now through a group of dedicated volunteers using their own cars, StreetMed provides street level first aid, mental health services and advocacy for homeless people and other people at risk in Western Sydney," the Mayor said.

"Chris has worked with many homeless people in the Hawkesbury over the last three years and she was a key presenter at Council’s' Homelessness Policy 2016 training with Council staff in October 2016.

"Chris has worked tirelessly in the community sector for the last 22 years, including her voluntary role with State Emergency Services in which Chris has held an active role in the Critical Incident Counselling Services Team for the last 14 years," the Mayor continued.

"Chris also volunteers with Sister to Sister, which mentors teenage girls at risk, and volunteers with Camp Magic, providing support for children who have lost parents or siblings."

Through the Homelessness Action Plan, Council has been working with many individuals and organisations to identify actions which can be undertaken by the Hawkesbury community, local services and agencies and all levels of government to support homeless people as well as reduce the occurrence of homelessness.

Council has also updated and reprinted the Hawkesbury Homelessness Resource Card that was first made available in 2015 following a continuing need for the information. The Card is a folding pocket size resource for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness that provides a list of agencies and services, including emergency accommodation. It is available from Council’s Administration Building, 366 George Street, Windsor.

Anyone concerned about the welfare of a homeless person can call the NSW Government Link2home free phone service by calling 1800 152 152. For more information about Heading Home, visit the Heading Home website or call (02) 4777 8021. Visit the StreetMed website for information about StreetMed.

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