Home Sweet is Link Wentworth’s annual fundraiser to help end homelessness. Launched in 2017, the fundraiser is a charity sleepover that attracts the support of corporates, government, NFPs and individual community members.
In 2019, the event had nearly 100 participants and raised over $181,000. All the money raised is given to the beneficiaries. In the past, our beneficiaries have included The Burdekin Association, Women’s Community Shelters and Link Wentworth’s Scholarship Program.
The 2023 event held on Friday 17 March had over 100 attendees and raised over $170,000. Learn more.
Judges Car Park, Penrith
In July 2018, Wentworth led a cross-agency project to house a group of 20 people who were sleeping rough in a busy car park in the Penrith CBD.
The situation was having a negative impact on everyone involved, with the physical and mental health of those living in the car park deteriorating and the community being denied access to the public car park and toilet.
Recognising the traditional outreach approach was not working, Wentworth explored successful examples of large groups of people being rehoused and public space returned the community. We came across the work of Iain de Jong, who has led successful projects in the U.S. and Canada to end much larger tent cities – and adapted his processes to meet our needs.
At Wentworth’s request, the Member for Penrith convened a cross-agency meeting bringing together key service providers and stakeholders working with homeless people in the region. Wentworth agreed to be the backbone organisation, responsible for meeting with each agency to explore its role, draw on its strengths and identify key tasks and timeframes.
Participating agencies included Platform Youth Services, Penrith City Council, the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) Housing, Christ Mission Possible (CMP), the NSW Police Force and Homelessness NSW. Once the group was established, we worked collaboratively to provide support and housing solutions to each of the people sleeping rough in the car park.
The project was a success with only two people still living at the site at completion. Almost half the people sleeping rough in the car park accepted support to be rehoused or reconnect with family inside the project’s timeframe. Those who reconnected with family were offered non-housing assistance in the form of long-distance train tickets and assistance with moving.
- Hawkesbury Tent Encampments
Based on the success of the Judge’s Carpark project, in 2018-19 Wentworth was invited to join a similar project to rehouse a group of 33 people who had been sleeping rough in tent encampments across the Hawkesbury region for a number of years.
The project saw Wentworth working with the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), the Police, Mental Health, Platform Youth Services and local charity, Hawkesbury Helping Hands. Homelessness NSW were also involved in an observing role.
Of the 33 names on the list at the beginning of the project, only five remained in residence on the final council clean-up day. 17 people were successfully housed by Wentworth and DCJ.
The success of the project meant several public spaces in the Windsor area could be returned to the community including Macquarie Park, the Grandstand, South Creek and the boat ramp.
On the back of the success of this project, we were invited to present:
- A Masterclass on Designing Specialist Homelessness Services (November 2019)
- At the Mental Health Summer Forum (February 2020)
- As part of an expert panel at the Homelessness NSW State Conference (February 2020)
In 2016, Wentworth launched this bold and ambitious initiative, designed to tackle the issue homelessness in the Nepean, Blue Mountains region of Sydney.
Heading Home brings together a diverse range of local partners and stakeholders including homelessness services, real-estate agents, local and state government, community groups and local businesses.
The project has four clear objectives:
- To identify people who are homeless and capture a comprehensive picture of the homeless population through “Registry Weeks”
- To identify the health and housing needs of people identified during the Registry Week event
- To find suitable accommodation for people identified as homeless
- To support them to sustain their tenancies.
After completing objectives 1 and 2, Heading Home identified a need for more suitable homes for people transitioning from homelessness. The project then shifted focus to exploring and developing creative housing solutions to meet this need. Garden Flats and Tiny Homes were two projects to emerge from this process.
This aim of this initiative is to support landlords to build and lease garden flats to people in need of affordable housing. We held a Garden Flats Expo in November 2018 and generated strong interest, with more than 500 people attending.
Taking on board feedback from interested parties, we developed a new, innovative financing model to make building a Garden Flat more viable and attractive. The project has now moved into a pilot phase, with our first tenant successfully housed in a Garden Flat in June 2020.
Inspired by the growth and success of the Tiny Homes movement in various locations around the world, we are currently searching for appropriate land to build a Tiny Homes pilot village. We have met with a range of landowners, including the NSW State Government, to discuss our plans.
This project received a significant boost when Sunrise Rotary Club of the Upper Mountains came on board as a fundraising supporter.
The Heading Home project has been honoured with two awards for its innovative and proactive approach to addressing the issue of homelessness:
- The Western Sydney ZEST Award for Exceptional Community Partnership Project Across the Region
- The Australian Housing Industry (AHI) Professional Excellence in Housing Award for Leading Community Engagement Practice