Hunter TAFE Community Services students have teamed up with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Compass Housing to develop a much-anticipated resource for Newcastle businesses and community services agencies to help them respond more effectively to homelessness in the community.
The First Response Kit was designed by Hunter TAFE Community Services Students to assist local business owners to respond to anyone who is currently experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
The Kit contains up-to-date information for people including where to access a free meal, hot shower, clothes or a blanket to where to find emergency accommodation and further support services. It also contains local services such as the Specialist Homelessness Service (SHS) Assertive Outreach team that business owners can contact for more help on how best to help someone in need.
Hunter TAFE Student, Elyce Kiem said students studying the Certificate IV in Community Services developed the First Response Kit as part of their course work and assessment.
“We have compiled and updated contact names and numbers of local agencies, services and programs relevant to those facing homelessness or people at risk in the Newcastle Area,” Elyce said. “There are various sections including housing services, food services, hygiene and emergency relief as well as points of contact and a color-coded map.”
“Homelessness often has a hidden face, with many people experiencing tough times that may be living with friends, relatives, in the car or even on the streets. There is a lot of pride around homelessness, many people doing it tough do not want others to know, so it’s important to have this information available for local businesses so they can easily and quickly provide support,” Hunter TAFE Community Services Teacher, David Baker, explains.
Hunter TAFE is a strong supporter of community service initiatives such as the First Response Kit resource and the annual Hunter Homeless Connect Day, which strives to connect those at risk of homelessness with support services, a meal, clothes and even a fresh haircut by Hunter TAFE’s hairdressing students. Community Service Students volunteer annually for the Hunter Homeless Connect Day including preparation, developing an evaluation form and information booklet for clients and volunteer on the day.
“Students in our Community Services courses at Hamilton are learning about social issues from the ground up. Being involved in projects like this, really open their eyes to the way the community sector works and how to best assist people in need and provides practical hand-on experience that will prepare them for careers in the industry,” David said.
Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Compass Housing will be helping to distribute hard copies of the First Response Kit to local businesses.