From Sleeping on the Street to a Hotel Suite

From Sleeping on the Street to a Hotel Suite

Monday 22 June 2020

For the past two months, Vinnies has been working alongside the NSW Government to ensure people sleeping rough can find safe accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the Matthew Talbot Hostel – an inner-city crisis accommodation service for men – in heavy demand, our team supported 20 residents to move to a nearby hotel, keeping everyone looked after while maintaining social distancing.

Food, case management and all the same support services which we offer to men staying on-site at the Matthew Talbot Hostel are available, with our nurses and healthcare workers providing pop-up clinic services twice a week. Keeping illness at bay is important to keep them safe, as people experiencing homelessness are at far greater risk of viral illnesses. We‘ve also set up an online community network to ensure people can stay connected.

In addition to supporting those men who previously stayed at the Matthew Talbot Hostel, our team is visiting a further 21 people who have been placed in hotels by other agencies, ensuring their needs are met too.

With the rate of homelessness in NSW increasing by 37% between the last two censuses – the highest jump of any state or territory across Australia – supporting rough sleepers has been critical to managing the coronavirus outbreak in our state.

Craig’s story

Working in the racing industry prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the fallout of the global health crisis saw Craig out of work and without a place to call home.

Seeking refuge at the Matthew Talbot Hostel after sleeping rough for six weeks, Craig was fearful of what would happen if the virus entered the facility. His concerns were put at ease when Vinnies quickly implemented social distancing, and Craig was one of the 20 residents to be moved to a nearby hotel.

“My fear with COVID was either being isolated or kicked out,” Craig explains in an interview with NITV News. “When they made this available to us with the conditions we’ve got here, the hope came back.

“We’ve got access to a psychiatrist, there’s a GP down the road, there’s a chemist down the road and they keep all your medication if you’re on meds and stuff like that.”

Craig is a proud Warriyangga man, one of two Aboriginal residents we are supporting at the hotel. Last financial year, around 14% of the people we supported through our homelessness services were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Ongoing support

We will continue to work with people like Craig over the coming months to ensure they have the support they need to get back on their feet.

The experience of government and organisations like Vinnies working together during coronavirus has proven that it’s possible to house people experiencing homelessness. As our communities recover from COVID-19, we want to ensure this attitude remains, and no one is left to sleep on the streets in the future.

Vinnies is calling for the NSW Government to invest in more social housing across the state to reduce the rate of homelessness. With more than 100,000 people currently on the waiting list for social housing in NSW, the time is long overdue for an investment in homes for those most at risk of homelessness.

Find out more about our “Build Homes, Build Hope” campaign and add your name to the petition.

Gareth Ward, Minister for Families, Communities and Disability services taking part in our 2020 Vinnies CEO Sleepout

Last Thursday we held the 15th Vinnies CEO Sleepout, raising essential funds for our homelessness services. So far, we have more than doubled our national goal, having raised over $5.5 million to continue providing accommodation, food, healthcare and support services for people who need our help at this critical time.

It’s not too late to donate, help us provide safety and comfort for someone like Craig at

Anyone in need of assistance is welcome to give us a call on 13 18 12.

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