Homeless get ready for more beds - as charities scramble for the unique opportunity to help homeless turned away from shelters.Mr Tony Clark, founder, chairman and volunteer of national charity Swags for Homeless, says: "We are leveraging the current success of giving one free bed to each of the 845 official street sleeping homeless in Melbourne - a world first. We now aim to inspire other cities around Australia and the world - on how the Australian designed all weather protection outdoor crisis bedding for homeless - can be used to tackle the desperate crisis of homelessness."
Mr Clark says that in Melbourne alone there are over 35 homeless charities that are handing out the quality crisis beds to homeless. The message from all charities is that the homeless treat our crisis beds like gold - realising that the beds are more economical than traditional non-waterproof blankets or sleeping bags that quickly go moldy and are discarded sometimes within days.
"The demand is overwhelming," he said. "Charities are screaming for our help."
Major David Eldridge of the Salvation Army writes in a letter to Swags for Homeless, "As an interim support measure, the provision of warm, waterproof bedding becomes important and we appreciate being able to provide people with your well-designed swags."
According to ABS 2006 figures there are 16,375 street sleeping homeless. "Yet, despite Prime Minster Kevin Rudd telling the nation on ABC TV that 80-90% of homeless are turned away every night from some shelters - our leaders have no plan for tonight," Mr Clark points out. "No plan? Not a blanket campaign. Not a toothbrush campaign. Not a single plan for homeless needing outdoor sleeping protection tonight. How horrific not to have a plan for tonight.
"The outdoor crisis bed has already proved itself in Melbourne. Our biggest fans are the homeless. They see the bed being used by fellow homeless, they go to their local crisis charity, they say please help, the charity calls Swags for Homeless, we send free beds to the charity, the charity helps the homeless - a great team effort. To prove it works - every bed handed out by charities requires a survey to be filled in and the results are overwhelmingly positive. Authorities need to listen - 97% of homeless recipients surveyed to date say the government should pay for this dignified outdoor crisis Bed.
"Imagine if 16,375 Australians were displaced due to a disaster in one location - our leaders would be spending millions with the Army in tow quicker than you could say election. How can we treat 16,375 Australians who sleep on the streets, in alleys, under bridges and worse - like this? It is astounding and un-Australian.
"Australia needs to know we need to raise approximately $1 million plus admin is needed to give each of the 16,375 street sleeping Aussies a dignified outdoor crisis bed? So little can help a nation."
Mr Clark adds, "Equally for only $217K plus admin a dignified outdoor crisis bed could be given to every street sleeping homeless Aussie in every capital city except Melbourne.
"People keep asking. Why do I keep excluding Melbourne? Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said to the media in Dec 2009 - by the end of his term he aims for no rough sleepers in Melbourne. Swags for Homeless commends this great aim - but we believe Doyle currently sends a very negative message to our hard working volunteers and 35+ Melbourne charities trying to help him. I want to personally meet with the Mayor to discuss this crisis and how we can help - but have been refused since May 2009."
In one area alone, Swags for Homeless has given 400+ beds to charities close to Melbourne's CBD and Mayor Doyle's city office. "The public needs to know the Rudd Government profited on our world first free bed hand out to all 845 Melbourne street sleeping homeless. We had to pay 7.5% duty then 10% GST a total of 17.5% tax. We begged for a waiver - no they said!
"The reality is that Governments could have a proven emergency relief plan based on our success in Melbourne - charity letters , interviews, petitions - it's crazy not to follow success."
So here we come street sleeping homeless in Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin, Perth, Hobart, Canberra and Brisbane. Swags for Homeless is coming! Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!"
Swags for Homeless
Founded by Tony Clark, Swags for Homeless provides free Backpack Beds™ (swags) as an interim crisis measure to street sleeping homeless around Australia. The concept of a swag being used for homeless people was revolutionised to create a Backpack and Bed in one - an outdoor all weather protection sleeping unit.
• National not for profit charity - donations over $2 are tax deductible
• Only 1.89% of funds raised went to overheads (ASIC Audit March 2009)
To purchase the famous Backpack Bed for yourself go to www.charity.org.au***
Tony Clark, Founder & Chairman, Swags for Homeless Ltd
P: 03 9764 9422
M: 0411 455 779