Today marks the beginning of National Homelessness Week, which is an annual event to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness in Australia. On any given night, 116,000 people in Australia are experiencing homelessness (ABS, 2016).
At The Footpath Library, we believe that number is under-represented. “The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the devastating floods, particularly in NSW, have seen more people edge dangerously close to homelessness,” explains Sarah Garnett, Founder of The Footpath Library. “People can be one step away from homelessness due to ill health, domestic violence, job loss, financial stress, eviction etc. Homelessness is a circumstance that happens to people, and once someone is homeless it can be very difficult for them to get out of it.”
It is a common misconception that homelessness means ‘rooflessness’ and only 7% of people without a home are sleeping rough on the streets. Most people experiencing homelessness are hidden from sight – people in crisis accommodation, insecure housing, couch surfing, living in their cars or in tents, or in overcrowded dwellings.
During National Homeless Week, The Footpath Library will be doing what we always do – providing mobile library services in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, ensuring that people experiencing homelessness have a safe and welcoming space to come and pick up a book that does not need to be returned and engage in conversation with other reader friends and our volunteers. Our readers can also pick up a pair of reading glasses and a hand knitted beanie and scarf. They’re small gestures that can have a powerful impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
Here’s a few quotes from our reader friends that illustrate the difference The Footpath Library can bring to someone experiencing homelessness:
“The (National Geographic) magazines keep my mind invigorated and engaged with positive thoughts.”
“Books put me in touch with minds greater than my own that I will never meet.”
“I thought words were supposed to be blurry until I got my reading glasses.”
“The Footpath Library is the highlight of my week.”
If you’d like to donate the price of a book to someone experiencing homelessness, you can donate here