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Kind actions highlight plight of homeless

Vet staff rally to provide warmth and comfort to man living rough beside the Mary River.
Vet staff rally to provide warmth and comfort to man living rough beside the Mary River.

WHEN you go home tonight, spare a thought for those who will not open the door to a home-cooked meal, a heater and a warm bed.

The homeless throughout the Gympie region will close their eyes and try to spend another chilly night sleeping on a park bench.

Staff members at Gympie Veterinary Services not only spared a thought for the homeless.

They brought warmth to a man with no home.

On Wednesday morning, vet nurses Deb Davey, Nina Gear and cleaner Sandra McDonald noticed someone sleeping in a vacant block.

In the fog of a three-degree morning, he had only a backpack and a Coles bag to brave the cold.

The man had no blanket or jumper.

"He was freezing and he was blue, we thought he was dead," Ms Gear said.

After they warmed the man up with some toast and coffee, a hat was passed around and staff raised enough money to buy a swag and some extra food.

But the compassion did not end there.

When Ms Davey told Gympie Camping and Outdoor staff of the man's plight, the shop slashed $100 off the swag, which allowed her to buy him a sleeping bag.

"It didn't take much to help him; we just wanted him to be warm," Ms Davey said.

"When I took the swag up to him it was gold; he had the biggest smile.

"He was really, really appreciative."

Now wherever the man goes, he will carry with him a bed and a simple act of compassion.

It is more than others in the same situation have and Ms Gear said it was a timely reminder of a much bigger issue.

"A lot of people don't know about the homelessness in Gympie," she said.

"There are no facilities in Gympie (for homeless); it took nine phone calls to find someone who could help.

"You have to give every homeless person a chance - you don't know their situation."

Victory Church community pastor Kevin Dailly agreed with that sentiment.

Victory Church runs a street van to feed the homeless, and Pastor Dailly said each night they provided meals for about 18 people.

He said there was no emergency accommodation, at all, in Gympie and the closest facilities were based in Nambour and Maryborough.

He also said some kind of accommodation should be funded in the region.

"The government, in their wisdom, seem to think facilities in Maryborough and Nambour are enough," he said.

"There are quite a number of homeless on the streets in Gympie; there are 50 homeless that I know of.

"We need a facility that we can receive funding to purchase and manage to offer the homeless support."

With high unemployment rates and the increasing cost of living, Pastor Dailly said the situation would only get worse.

"We have seen a large increase in people purchasing our food hampers," he said.

"It gets worse week to week.

"It is a problem that is not being addressed."

Anyone requiring assistance can phone the Victory Church on 5482 8206 or 0417 724 542.

Donations of blankets and food can also be made at 1 Barter St.

Topics:  editors picks homeless poverty social justice victory church

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