Over the past 4 years the city of Melbourne has been gaining information about people sleeping rough through the StreetCount initiative. StreetCount involves around 140 volunteers wanting to help the homeless community through survey people sleeping rough on the street. The information gained from doing this activity allows the City of Melbourne to act with the intention to provide better support for the homeless community.
On the 6th of June, while many others were sleeping in the darkness of 4.15am in the morning, 5 members from the 300 Blankets team joined volunteers from all areas of Melbourne at the Melbourne Town Hall to participate in the 2012 StreetCount. With warm coffees. instructional booklets, folders, pens, torches to prepare to ‘go out in the field’ to conduct their surveys. Teams were split into groups of 2 to walk the streets and lane ways of Melbourne CBD, North Melbourne and West Melbourne – looking for homeless people to count and conduct the simple survey. Each pair were given a ‘thank you pack’, to be handed out to participants of the survey. This pack consisted of every essentials such as toothbrush, paste, information/contact numbers card, phone card, Met card and a voucher for a hot breakfast.
The 300 Blankets team covered a large portion of the Melbourne CBD. Stretching from Flinders Street up to La Trobe Street and Elizabeth Street to William Street, we walked with upmost care to find and approach homeless people sleeping rough. This was an eye opening experience for the team and we gained valuable first hand knowledge of the homeless situation in Melbourne.
The final results from StreetCount2012 as reported by The Age newspaper, was that in that morning hours between 4:30am – 8:30am, 101 people were detected sleeping rough in areas such as park benches and doorways. Of the 54 people surveyed, almost two third have been homeless for more than two years. It’s the sad truth hidden in the shadows of our great city. The results have opened our eyes to the reality of the situation and have provided greater motivation for us to try to make a difference.