WHAT a fantastic gesture from the Bathurst Uniting Church to support the homeless in our city.
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.
More importantly, they will be safe and warm as the worst of Bathurst’s winter starts to bite.
The project is an example of faith in practice, an example of all that can be good about the church.
The initiative is also 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.
This newspaper has said before that the measure of a society is the way it treats its most vulnerable and the Bathurst Uniting Church has set a shining example for us all.
It would shock most residents to think that our prosperous community could be home to people forced to sleep rough, but that is the sad reality.
As they huddle under bridges or in doorways, these people are not only at the mercy of the elements but also any passing thug that cannot keep quietly to themselves.
By throwing open the church doors the parishioners at the Bathurst Uniting Church are also throwing open their hearts, offering support and hope to people at their greatest time of need.
And all it took was some clear thinking and the will to make it happen.
“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,” co-ordinator Julie Greig 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.”
Sounds simple, but then came the hard work of making it happen.
The initiative will begin on a trial basis but we can only hope it is a success and becomes a permanent fixture.
As a society, we must do more to tackle homelessness. Bathurst is fortunate that the Uniting Church is leading the way.