Show Them You Care
‘Geelong cares for its own’, that’s the message behind Samaritan House Geelong, a not-for-profit organisation that provides crisis overnight accommodation and support for homeless men aged over 18 years.
For homeless men from Geelong and surrounding areas, Samaritan House – funded entirely by Geelong individuals, organisations and local grant funding bodies, is a place of hope and the one full-time staff member, Josephine Barnes, is a welcoming face at a time when it can feel like the world doesn’t care.
The organisation’s Winter Appeal has been launched and you can show that this city really does care for its own.
When first opened in 2012, Samaritan House was able to provide crisis overnight accommodation for four homeless men. Since then, Samaritan House has offered hope and shelter to more than 300 men who would otherwise be sleeping rough.
Since 2012, the work of this very special local service has expanded.
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Samaritan House patron, Lino Bisinella and his family, together with many other supporters, a new purpose-built facility was created alongside the original house and opened in December 2015. As a consequence, Samaritan House Geelong can now support up to 13 men at a time.
The new house accommodates nine men and the original building is now used as a transition house, where men can be supported for up to three months while working towards a better future.
Supporting Josephine – whose energy and stories can easily move you to tears – is a team of more than 110 volunteers and a board headed by Keith Fagg. Samaritan House receives no government funding and operates 365 days a year, including Christmas Day, funded entirely by the generous Geelong community. We are open, and take a holistic approach to care.
Samaritan House receives no government funding and operates 365 days a year, including Christmas Day, funded entirely by the generous Geelong community.
During 2016, the team at the house welcomed 115 guests, made 2515 bed-nights available, served thousands of meals and shared countless stories around the dining table. Nearly 50 per cent of Samaritan guests have been able to move into stable housing and a further 25 per cent are now in short-term accommodation.
For the men who stay there, Samaritan House is more than a house it is a home. It is a hot meal and a seat at the table; it is a place to have a shower and wash clothes; it is a listening, caring and supportive ear and a place to rest and recover.
Most of the Samaritan House guests lack connections with family or the community. Many have been brought up in orphanages and foster homes; some have mental issues, acquired brain injury or other health problems.
Sadly, others are victims of sexual abuse and family violence. Some turn to alcohol, drugs or gambling for respite from depression.
Homelessness can be unexpected, resulting from relationship breakdowns, for example, and men are often shocked, as they never believed it would happen to them.
Homelessness can happen to anyone. These men could be your father, brother, cousin, workmate or a friend.
For every man who finds a home there are others waiting to take his place at Samaritan House. There are hundreds of people in Geelong who do not have a permanent home of their own. Many are staying with relatives and friends; others are living in caravans, boarding houses and hotels. Geelong welfare agencies cannot effectively estimate the number sleeping rough as people sleeping rough are by necessity hidden, sleeping in disguised buildings, stairwells and toilet blocks.
Samaritan House is the only facility that caters exclusively for homeless men, so it is critically important that the doors are kept open.
Running costs are currently about $200,000 per year and the charity relies entirely on the generosity of individuals, groups, organisations and philanthropic trusts to support its operations.
There are many ways to give and Josephine and the team at Samaritan House is always on the lookout for volunteers, particularly men. Perhaps you know a father, brother, uncle or a friend who may be interested in supporting their work in this way?
Find out more at samaritanhousegeelong.com.au