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A Bittersweet Return To Sydney's Streets

It’s a surreal feeling to see a mix of seasoned and fresh Mobilise volunteers outside Town Hall in the Sydney CBD filling up care packages with warm clothes, toiletries, support information and supplies for our first couple of outreaches since February. Mobilise has gone through a great deal of change and restructuring in these last few months (including ACNC registration!) and it felt like the time was right to return to doing what we do best – delivering support, conversation and compassion to people sleeping rough in our city.

We’ve been blessed with many powerful conversation and connections new and old. People were grateful to receive a delivery of clothes, toiletries, water, and especially excited about pizza and garlic bread from our new partner dominoes! While sharing these we were able to share in several stories – some positive and some less so.

There was “S”, who had been on the waiting list for social housing for 9 years and after recently moving in to accommodation made the difficult decision to leave due to violence and drug use issues – He’s working with his case worker to find something more suitable. And “T”, who had been on the street three weeks and was working with Centrelink to get the support she needs to get back on her feet.

However, we also met “B” who had recently moved to Sydney from WA to seek out the greater job opportunity in the harbour city, and shared a belly laugh with our volunteers about his acceptance for things he had done in a past life. We met “A”, who was brought to tears when our conversation had to end. And finally, “C” – who we asked how his life has been during COVID, with his busking ringing through empty streets and deserted office buildings. His reply was not what we expected, but was heart-warming to hear.

“I think that since coronavirus people have been treating me more kind, more willing to help out”

Hopefully the community spirit and culture of looking out for your neighbour will persist after the virus is gone, as we all learn how precious those form our marginalised communities really are. While many people were housed over the past few months, the number of rough sleepers are on the rise again. If you see a familiar face on your walk through the city, next time ask them how they are – you never know what difference you’ll make or the stories you’ll hear.

Until next time,

Jacob, NSW

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