Apart from running our regular mobile library outreach at Martin Place, The Footpath Library is currently piloting a monthly service, The Hub, in Sydney inner west, where people experiencing homelessness or disadvantage can access a range of support services. The Hub aims to provide a welcoming, safe space and a ‘one-stop-shop’ to ease the challenges of finding all the necessary help and support services that people need.
The Hub services include legal advice, a women’s financial clinic, haircuts, podiatry, help with form filling and basic tech support, help applying for birth certificates, community worker support, free reading glasses and – of course – books! We also provide hot drinks and refreshments and friendly conversations.
Angela Speck, our Sydney Programs Manager, is encouraged by the engagement with The Hub’s pilot program. “We are seeing repeat attendance from a number of clients which is a great sign, and they speak highly of The Hub. We often hear, ‘I only came to…’ followed by the mention of one specific service, but clients then tend to stay on and access services as well, which is the purpose of The Hub – to ensure people get easy access to a range of different services they need.”
Hairdressing, podiatry and birth certificate applications are proving to be popular but it is the social connection that many people come for – an opportunity to chat to others over a cup of tea in a relaxed, friendly environment.
“Ada* is of CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) background and came to The Hub wanting to pick up some books to help her with her English, and she was surprised to discover multiple services on offer,” explains Angela. “She was particularly grateful to be able to have her feet checked by a podiatrist who identified she was suffering from painful chilblains. The treatment provided her with immediate relief as well as advice on how to minimise the risk of recurring chilblains. We were also able to talk to Ada about how to get help with improving her English language skills as well.”
*The name of the client has been changed.