Wesley Edward Eagar Centre Appeal
Did you know that the total number of Australians who are homeless has now increased to over 116,000 women, men and children every night? Lack of affordable housing, an escalation in mental illness, family violence, and the financial difficulties caused by COVID-19, are all adding to the problem. This growing challenge has lead us to redevelop our Wesley Edward Eagar Centre in Surry Hills.
Wesley Edward Eagar Centre has been part of the fabric of the inner-city community of Surry Hills since the 1970s, supporting some of the most vulnerable adults in our community. It is also a place of connection, whether it be with community or family, and will continue to offer individual, secure rooms for short-term emergency accommodation whilst supporting their next step forward.
But just as homelessness is rising, the rooms inside have become tired and old. The building is worn out, making it harder for us to help those in need. While we will preserve its heritage features, the reconfigured facility will allow us to improve the way we provide hope and dignity to people experiencing homelessness, like Vince and Zehra. Read Vince’s moving story here or read Zehra’s triumphant story here. Dedicated spaces for triage in the building will also enable us to launch a new model of care. Clients will engage in an expert approach where a qualified staff member will assess their needs, build rapport and trust, then link them to a full range of ‘wrap-around’ support services on site – from trauma counselling to Centrelink outreach.
This major upgrade comes at a significant cost, that is why we have launched our Wesley Edward Eagar Centre appeal. A centre that will continue to provide a safe place, restore hope and dignity, all of which can go a long way to breaking the cycle of homelessness.
Please support our appeal, your generosity and help will improve how we provide dignity, strength and shelter for the growing numbers of people like Zehra experiencing homelessness each year because every life matters.
Click to read Vince's story
Every night was unbearably cold. Vince would huddle in his crowded tent, which he shared with four other men, beneath the light rail tunnels at Wentworth Park.
“I thought I was going to be on the streets for the rest of my life,” Vince says.
But in a moment, that all shifted. “I was lucky that Wesley Mission came along, and they changed all that for me,” he shares.
Vince will always remember that day. He woke to a commotion in the park. There he met Rob from Wesley Mission, who invited him to stay at Wesley Edward Eagar Centre.
Vince vividly recalls that long walk from Wentworth Park to Wesley Edward Eagar Centre in Surry Hills. “It was raining heavily, and I got to the lodge and I was soaked. It was so good to have a hot shower and a hot meal. I was very grateful.”
While finally safe and comfortable, finding Vince a permanent roof over his head proved to be challenge. Ten years ago, Vince lost contact with his daughter after travelling through a messy divorce. But driven by love for his daughter, Vince invested his divorce settlement into a property, which he put into a Trust under his daughter’s name.
“Years ago, I had a problem with addiction and I think if I’d kept that money, I would’ve blown it,” he shares. “I love my daughter so much and I just wanted to leave something for her.”
While admirable, it meant Vince had nothing left to build a life for himself. And his property investment limited his ability to access housing support. Unable to afford the property’s mortgage payments, he needed to source rental income. But that left Vince without a home. So, he ended up on the streets.
While a unique situation, our team began navigating through Vince’s legal housing issues. And after eight months at Wesley Edward Eagar Centre, Vince was offered a transitional home in Sydney’s inner suburbs.
Thanks to your generosity, two years later, we finally found a place Vince can permanently call home.
“The last 10 years have been a struggle for me and I didn’t ever think that I’d end up where I am today, but I do have to thank Wesley Mission. Their support and their interaction with me and helping me with housing, I couldn’t have done that by myself,” Vince says.
Click to read Zehra's story
Zehra – In and out of homelessness
Zehra had always lived in central Sydney, and when she was just 18 she married a man who turned out to be extremely violent. Too ashamed to return to her parents, and with nowhere else to turn, she stayed in the marriage and had two children.
Zehra, former resident of Wesley Edward Eagar Centre, tried to approach her doctor about the violence she was suffering, but was only prescribed valium to calm her nerves. “The valium really blew me away emotionally,” she remembers.
After years of violent abuse, Zehra left her husband and took her two sons with her.
“I just had to do it on my own, I had no family support.”
Things temporarily improved, but she had to work 18 hour days to support her children and started using speed to keep up – the start of an addiction that would last for years. In a cruel coincidence, her addiction eventually pushed her children, the reason she took the drugs to begin with, out of her life.
Broke and alone, she had no one to turn to and nowhere to go. Zehra moved into a refuge in Haymarket, but was still at risk of theft and assault. She had a bed and roof but was far from safe.
Battered by years of abuse and the shame she felt from being homeless, it was only when Zehra came to live at Wesley Edward Eagar Centre in Surry Hills that she began to see that life could get better.
Zehra finally feels she has a safe place to live while she gets back on her feet.
“One day, when I am back on track, I will be able to look my sons in the eye again and tell them I did everything I could for them.”