Some find shelter in a caravan park, others sleep in community parks while the desperate seek solace under a bridge.
Homeless families in Penrith and surrounding areas who struggle to find a safe residence will no longer be forced to live on the streets after Mission Australia opened its Centre for Western Sydney families in Kingswood last Friday.
The $13.7 million dollar facility will provide security and welfare for an estimated 1000 families each year who are enduring homelessness or other difficult circumstances.
‘‘The number one thing to do about homelessness is to actually stop it happening before it happens and to provide services which keep people in their houses,’’ Mission Australia CEO Toby Hall said.
‘‘This massive facility is intended to work with people to assist them in a point of crisis to stop them becoming homeless.’’
In addition to the Centre’s 22 accommodation units, the staff within the Mission Australia building will also offer outreach support to previously homeless families, a hub for numerous child and family services including young parent programs and a toy library and a family day care for families in the St Marys and Penrith area.
Penrith mother of three Emily Crawford sought the assistance of Mission Australia just prior to the birth of her first child seven years ago.
The 25-year-old now helps run their program for young parents and is looking at forging a career in the community service industry.
‘‘Mission Australia has helped me a great deal,’’ she said. ‘‘I’ve become a better, stronger and more confident person and I’ve improved my skills in looking after my kids.
‘‘A lot of young mums don’t there’s a young parents program and it would be great to get new people come into the centre and have them experience what I’ve experienced over the last seven years.’’
Although Mission Australia is often met with community concern before the construction of a new facility, Mr Hall said ‘‘remarkably in this community we didn’t find that.’’
‘‘We want to be part of the community, we want to work with the community, but to be welcomed with open arms sadly is an unusual thing for us,’’ he said.
‘‘Usually we have to fight to get this sort of service up and running so I want to thank the local community for that support.’’