To commemorate the success of clients, guests and volunteers over 25 years, Coast Shelter, with the help of Noel Fisher Photography and Philanthropy Australia, have produced a book to provoke discussion and change perceptions about homelessness and those experiencing homelessness on the Central Coast.
The book is called ‘Partnerships Ending Hardships’ and is a collection of stories from the clients, volunteers and those who have been associated with Coast Shelter over its 25-year existence.
“Coast Shelter is not only celebrating our achievement of operating for 25 years, but also the successes of each and every client that we have helped in that time,” said Coast Shelter CEO, Mr Laurie Maher.
“Each of our clients has a story to tell, and we have helped many achieve their goals,” Mr Maher said.
“It may have been moving into a safe and secure home, passing the HSC, getting a new job, or mending a relationship with a family member,” he said.
“Each achievement is worth celebrating.”
Over the past 25 years, Coast Shelter has provided accommodation to 16,866 homeless men, women and children for a total of 797,302 days.
Operating for 15 of those 25 years, the Coast Community Centre has provided 632,181 meals along with other support to help those at risk of homelessness to maintain their tenancies.
“While the statistics are impressive, it is the respectful support for each of our clients which is most important,” Mr Maher said.
“As a truly local charity, Coast Shelter could not have achieved this growth without the support of local businesses, government departments, welfare agencies, philanthropic organisations, donors and volunteers.
“We are extremely grateful for the continued support of our community partners who have all contributed to our growth and success.
“In this special year, we hope to recognise the contribution of everyone on the Central Coast who has been involved in our work throughout the years through our book, with the book launching during Community and Philanthropy Partnerships Week.
The exhibition event also commenced on White Ribbon Day (November 25), as Coast Shelter continues to advocate against domestic violence.
Author and photographer for Partnerships Ending Hardships, Mr Noel Fisher, said the spirit of community was the key lesson he would take away from the project.
“It is all about the importance of community to Coast Shelter and the importance of Coast Shelter to the community,” Mr Fisher said.
“No matter who you talk to, the volunteers, the staff, the clients, if someone has been ostracised, they can come in to Coast Shelter and watch TV with other people, and they can be part a community,” he said.
Mr Fisher said he had the opportunity to speak with many of Coast Shelter’s 100-odd employees, volunteers and clients, past and present.
“Many volunteers are past clients,” he said.
“After they have been through Coast Shelter, they come back and help, they become volunteers.”
Mr Fisher said even though the book is about homelessness and those experiencing homelessness, he wanted to focus on the positive, and attempted to capture the subjects of the photographs in the book, smiling.
“I think something in each of the stories will resonate with every reader,” he said.
“Every week, the NRMA send two employees who are on the roster to cook lunch at the Coast Shelter Community Centre during work hours.
“One of the subjects in the book, a retired merchant seaman, comes in to clean the kitchen.
“When he was younger, he hitched to Adelaide and had to camp on the riverbank and experienced the way the homeless were treated, so he vowed to help, to donate to the homeless.”
CEO, Mr Laurie Maher, said Coast Shelter continued to offer three times more beds per night that it is funded to do.
He said the heart and soul of Coast Shelter was that it offered: “Empathetic, non-judgemental support that focused on the individual, and that is why, in our 25th year, we decided to recount some of the stories of those individuals that we have assisted,” he said.
Books can be purchased for $20 by contacting Coast Shelter.
Media release, Nov 21
Interview, Oct 27
Laurie Maher, Coast Shelter
Interview, Nov 17
Noel Fisher, Partnerships Ending Hardship
Jackie Pearson, journalist