Canberra’s St Vincent de Paul Society expands its night patrol services

Rising homelessness in Canberra’s outer suburbs has promoted the St Vincent de Paul Society to expand its service by adding a new night patrol van.

Chief executive officer of the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn Barnie​ van Wyk said the mobile service offered warm clothing, hygiene packs, light refreshments as well as friendly faces.

“Over the last year, Vinnies night patrol has supported homeless men, women and children of all ages distributing over 11,000 hygiene packs, warm clothes, or meals,” Mr van Wyk said.

“Particularly during the winter months items including socks, gloves, jackets and beanies are in demand.”

He said about 800 pairs of socks were handed out last winter.

Mr van Wyk said the van was donated by Canberra Toyota and the initiative came after the CEO Sleepout, an event that promotes awareness of homelessness.

“After 16 years of the night patrol servicing the areas of Dickson and the city centre, increased homelessness in the outer suburbs has meant that the need for a second van has become very apparent.”

The current night patrol van services about 30 people a night, but Mr van Wyk said not everyone using the van was homeless.

“You also have people that are experiencing social exclusion…I saw the other night an elderly couple that came through and it was quite clear that they hadn’t had any contact with people. So just coming out and having a little contact helps.”

Mr van Wyk encourages Canberrans to volunteer.

“We have 300 volunteers looking after the the first truck and we would like to have another 300 for the new van.”

For more information visit the website.