LOCAL business leaders, youth and Upper Hunter Homeless Support have banded together in an effort to raise awareness of homelessness in the community.
The group will be sleeping rough tonight in front of Council’s Administration Centre as part of a Couch Surf Sleep Out for World Homlessness Day which was first marked on October 10 2010.
Upper Hunter Homeless Support Case Worker Marina Lee-Warner said while the increased number of homeless in Australia is well recognised, the problem in the local community is often hidden.
“There are 6000 people on the public housing waiting list in the Hunter region alone,” she said.
“Homelessness in our community manifests itself in couch surfing, living in over crowded conditions or sleeping in cars and under bridges.”
It is the first time the service has run a couch surf, and it wasn't until a group of business leaders in the community got together that the event started to receive support.
The community is invited to come along and meet the participants during their 18 hours on the couch, where they will have no food, phones, money or entertainment.
The couch surf sleep out will conclude with a free barbecue breakfast provided by the Scone Neighbourhood Resource Centre tomorrow morning at 9am, with all welcome to attend.
"We hope to raise awareness not only of homelessness in our community but the fact that there are services available to help,” Ms Lee-Warner said.
“When people think of homelessness, they only think of Kings Cross but it is also a rural issue.”
Ms Lee-Warner said people come to the Upper Hunter in an attempt to find cheap accommodation, only to realise it isn’t there.
“There are many government agencies and services in this area working together to address the needs of these people,” she said.
“Link2home is an information and referral telephone service for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.”
If you are homeless or at risk you can call Link2home on 1800 152 152 or Upper Hunter Homeless Support on 65425051 during business hours.