A DIFFERENT kind of support will be made available to people experiencing homelessness in the Bathurst community this winter.
Due to COVID-19 health concerns, the Uniting Safe Shelter (USS) is unable to open at the Bathurst Uniting Church this year, however the management committee was still eager to provide assistance.
Now, the team has come up with the idea to run a café service to provide basic meals to people in need and to hand out sleeping bags.
USS coordinator Julie Greig said the café will be operating on weekends only during the colder months.
"Often on the weekend other services aren't available, so hence we've decided to choose Saturday and Sunday," she said.
"We'll have hot meals available, we'll also have some clean clothes and warm sleeping bags if people want them."
The meals are going to be bought from local businesses, to offer support to them in this time and to ensure there is safe handling of food.
The café will be set up in the activities room of the church hall in William Street.
Appropriate measures will be put in place to ensure the area is safe and social distancing can be maintained.
It's unknown how much demand there will be for the café, but the aim is to have support there for those who need it.
"It will be hard to tell how many people will or won't come through the door. We certainly won't turn anyone away who comes, regardless of whether they are homeless or not," Ms Greig said.
"We also want it to be somewhere warm where people can sit for a little while, because so many of the places people would normally go and be able to keep warm are now closed.
"But because this is a welfare thing, there's slightly different rules that apply to that, but we wanted somewhere that people could come, they could have a hot meal, they could get warm for a while, and there'd be a friendly face, conversation if they wanted it."
The café is set to open for the first time this Saturday from 12pm to 2pm.
It will be run entirely by volunteers and Ms Greig said there may be opportunities for members of the community to help if they would like to be involved.
"We are always happy for people to be involved in the project," she said. "It's a delight that so many people are interested in this area."
If people are interested in helping, they can get in contact via the USS Facebook page or call 0455 328 966.
Those who want to stay up-to-date on information related to the shelter's café should keep an eye on the Facebook page.