IN an amazing act of kindness, the Bathurst Uniting Church will be offering a safe place to men sleeping rough in the city over winter.
From June 14, the church will have the capacity to house five men a night in a vacant room at the back of the William Street site.
The men will have access to sleeping mats, bedding and basic meal facilities, as well as a toilet, during the winter months.
They can access the room via a laneway on the site.
Coordinator Julie Greig said the project will be trialed from mid-June through to the end of August, with the emergency accommodation offered five nights a week, from Thursday to Monday.
The initiative is supported by an expert advisory group, with representatives from the church, Anglicare, St Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, Bathurst Catholic Diocese, HopeCare, The Bridge Community and Wellways Australia.
Bathurst Regional council has also been made aware.
Ms Greig said the idea to offer a safe place for these men to sleep was inspired by the work of other churches, and the fact the Bathurst Uniting Church often has people sleeping rough there.
“We have some areas that weren’t being used for anything else that can be used for this project, so that is the main advantage,” she said.
“It’s an issue of social justice. Buildings are empty while people are sleeping out on the streets.
“We’re called on as a church to look after the weak and vulnerable who don’t have a voice normally, so that is where we are coming from.”
The project will be known as Uniting Safe Space (USS).
Ms Greig said the church will need a lot of community volunteers to assist with the project.
Two volunteers will be needed each night to sleep on the site, acting as supervision.
All volunteers will be assisted with police-check vetting, receive relevant training, and be fully supported during their involvement with USS.
Information and training sessions for volunteers will be held on Thursday, June 7 at 2pm and 7pm.
“We’re looking for volunteers who won’t be judgmental, who are happy to treat all people with respect and who care about this as an issue in their town,” Ms Greig said.
Anyone who would like to find out more about the project or sign up as a volunteer can call Ms Greig on 0429 344 456.
Local businesses or community groups who would be willing to help out the church by providing showers, laundry, food and other necessities are also invited to get in touch.