Fletcher Street Cottage, Byron's only homeless services hub, is regrettably faced with the necessity of reducing its services from five days to four days a week, operating from Tuesday through Friday. This decision is due to the lack of government funding causing a significant funding shortfall, jeopardising the crucial support provided to our community's most vulnerable.
Shocking statistics* reveal Byron Shire has the largest cohort of rough sleepers in NSW, higher than the City of Sydney. Since its establishment in April 2022, Fletcher Street Cottage has been a beacon of hope for the Byron Shire community, with over 13,000 visits by locals seeking help.
The rapid increase in demand for homeless services underscores the critical role this facility plays in addressing the housing crisis, rising cost of living and rental stress experienced by many in the region.
Byron Community Centre General Manager Louise O'Connell emphasised the importance of addressing the housing crisis, stating, "The Byron Shire is grappling with a severe affordable housing crisis, which is exacerbated with each passing day. We urgently seek government support and sustainable funding to continue assisting the growing number of people in need."
Though the organisation successfully raised $400K through its Emergency Appeal, regular donors and generous support of the community, this funding falls $600K short of the required annual amount. This gap highlights the urgent need for ongoing support, ideally government support to ensure the facility's sustainability and uninterrupted services for its community.
Louise expressed the organisation's commitment to its clients, explaining, "It’s devastating for all of us at Fletcher Street Cottage to reduce our services, but most of all for our service users. It is a lifeline for many people in our community who are doing it tough. There has never been a more critical time to provide support to individuals and families faced with housing insecurity."
We are seeing people who have never come to Fletcher Street Cottage before. Families, young people and older women who have nowhere else to turn.
In response to the mounting challenges, Fletcher Street Cottage has announced that the reduced hours will commence from October 23, 2023. The facility currently has no ongoing state or federal government funding, and relies solely on grants and the generosity of donors and sponsors to support Byron’s homeless community.
People rely on Fletcher Street Cottage not only to access everyday needs like breakfast and showers, but also for counselling, emergency relief, housing, medical care and legal aid, through Community Support Workers and visiting specialist services including Centrelink and Social Futures.
The funding challenges at Fletcher Street Cottage highlight the need for immediate and sustained support from the government and the community to ensure the ongoing provision of essential services for those experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity in the Byron Shire.
To get involved or donate go to: www.giveheart.au.
*Department of Communities and Justice: 2023 NSW Street Count
13,440 Visits by service users to Fletcher Street Cottage
- 15,207 Breakfasts
- 6,325 Showers & Laundry
- 751 Visiting Services
- 4,010 Support Appointments & Emergency Relief (ER)
- 5,000+ Volunteer Hours
Visiting Specialist Services
- First Light Healthcare (GP)
- Homelessness Health Outreach Team (HHOT - NSW Health)
- Lives Lived Well - Strong Community Program
- My Momentum
- Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre
- NSW Community Corrections
- Public Space Liaison Officers (Byron Shire Council)
- Services Australia (Centrelink)
- Social Futures
About Fletcher Street Cottage
Fletcher Street Cottage provides support and services for people at risk of homelessness, or already sleeping rough.
The Byron Community Centre is an independent not for profit organisation that provides essential services including meals, advocacy and counselling, as well as arts and social programs for the benefit of the whole community.