The Outreach Program captures people in the local community who are in desperate need of assistance, but hard for mainstream service providers to reach.
The mission of The Way extends far beyond the house itself. A knock at the front door often signals a request for help from a neighbour or someone who happens to be in the area and needs a bite to eat, the use of a telephone, or perhaps a warm blanket. Many homeless and disadvantaged people around Fitzroy know that The Way is a place they can go when things become too much: when pay day is far away, food is short, or the weather is turning cold and they don’t know what to do. Our location and our informal approach mean that we can respond quickly and flexibly to people in need, even if that response consists of little more than a sympathetic ear and a sandwich. In this way we complement the other more formalised homelessness services in the area.
In 2013 The Way Community established a formal outreach program. The idea was to capture people in the local community who are in desperate need of assistance, but hard for mainstream service providers to reach. Some of the most needy people in the inner city can’t or won’t get themselves to a doctor, a housing service, or someone who can help them with a mental illness. They have trouble keeping appointments, which often means they miss out on assistance because time-poor services can’t follow them up. The Royal District Nursing Service does a fantastic job in reaching out to these people, but they too have limited time and resources. We at The Way decided to try to fill the gap.
Staff and volunteers now visit a growing number of people in local boarding houses or community housing. We help with the small things: meals, hygiene, clothes washing, prescriptions, and managing money. We go to places where access is difficult for mainstream services. We see people regularly and are able to respond if their health is deteriorating or their accommodation is in jeopardy. The most important thing we can offer is our presence; isolation is one of the most devastating consequences of homelessness and poverty in our society today.