As I look up to the sky today, heavy rain clouds are gathering. It is as if they were a winter omen. The rain seems ready to descend on rough sleepers and the cold threatens to bite at the have-nots. Winter is tough for an ever growing number of Sydneysiders, but thankfully your support enables us to make their lives better.
In fact this winter we will give more hot meals, more warm clothes and more care to more struggling people than ever before.
A sign of the times
Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but demand has grown so much that our fleet of food vans now serve meals from 14 different locations across Sydney. Imagine how welcome they are on cold winter nights.
The people who come to our food vans are some of the poorest Sydneysiders. Interestingly, they aren’t just rough sleepers. A few weeks ago there was a single mother with her children in-tow. “We come to your food van most evenings”, she told me. “I don’t know how we would cope without you”. I gave her a hot meal as well as some donated store vouchers to buy warm clothes for the children.
I try to go out with our food vans as often as possible. One place we visit is a park in Glebe. It is full of rough sleepers. As you can imagine, their need is both immediate and complex. So in addition to nutritious, hot meals we give them healthcare and other social services.
The help is always appreciated. What’s more, it’s the sort of thing we can only do with your kind support.
More poor and hungry people need feeding
This winter the situation is not going to get any better. Indeed, I expect demand for our hot meals to increase over and above the record levels we catered for during the pandemic. However, I am determined to meet that need, because I see our work as a mission rather than a service.
Jim was a regular at our Loaves & Fishes Free Restaurant in Ashfield before the pandemic. He was a real battler who suffered multiple health conditions. We made sure he stayed fed, warm and well during the long lockdowns and we got him vaccinated too. Now, Jim has returned. It’s wonderful to see his smile! He tells me he feels reconnected to a caring community.
So we will continue to care for people like Jim, but we will always find room for more. We will have to. The growing number of have-nots need to be kept warm and well this winter.
That’s why we give the hungry more than just hot meals on cold nights. Our vans are also stocked with winter woollies and warm blankets to ease the bitter chill. Also, our nurses and doctors keep them healthy with regular check-ups and the sorts of basic care you and I can take for granted.
Could you sleep rough tonight?
As I write this letter the rain has begun to fall. I can smell winter in the air. It won’t be long before you and I also start to feel that chill, so imagine what it would feel like if you had to sleep rough on a cold, wet night.
That’s why I’m asking you to support my mission this winter. I need your help to feed the ever-increasing numbers of hungry people who come to us for hot meals. I need your help to give them warm clothes. And I need your help to keep them healthy through the long cold winter.
I know we all live in uncertain times, but I ask you to spare a thought for those whose situation is more desperate. Indeed, your donation this winter may be one of the most important you ever give. If you donate now, we can keep those battlers warm and well, and we can give them hope.
Rev. Bill Crews