Setting aside our missing MI’s and countless spot moves, around 17 staff from PHD, Mindshare, OMD, Seven Network, Foundation, Ignite, Gorilla Nation, and the MFA, joined forces on Thursday 4th October to give something back to the community by lending a hand at Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross.
Our day began with an introduction to Wayside with our guide for the day, Marcus. He highlighted the wide range of services Wayside provides such as showers, clean bathrooms (which aren’t readily available in the area), low cost and often free meals, an op shop, a youth centre, a subsidised café, a chapel, health and counselling clinics and activities.
The Chapel, (officially Uniting but accepting of all faiths) is often used for Weddings, but sadly, more often than not, funerals for the underprivileged and sometimes people far too young. Marcus was clear that the staff and volunteers at Wayside did not have an ‘Us/Them’ mentality and that Wayside was a place free of judgement. The focus at Wayside is community and giving people ‘a hand’ as opposed to a ‘hand out’.
The NGen group then proceeded to take a tour of the Cross and Woolloomooloo, where we visited shelters, ‘shop fronts’ (facilities that provide hygienic syringes, condoms, etc.), and refuges. It was far removed from our usual inebriated late nights wandering through the Cross. You may not know that these places exist, but the tour opened our eyes to these valuable local services. Ironically, as our guide stated, Woolloomooloo which is approximately 90% Government Housing, is adjacent to Elizabeth Bay which has one of the highest median house prices in Australia. It is surprising that there are usually between 40 and 60 people sleeping underneath the railway overpass daily. Taking this stroll gave us a profound appreciation for the privileged lives we live. A warm bed and a roof over our heads are so often taken for granted.
As we walked, Marcus pointed out the somewhat delicate subject of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre and relayed to us that although Heroin is believed to be the most common injected drug in the area, it is largely prescription drugs such as Oxycontin that people use.
Upon returning to Wayside, we rolled up our sleeves, threw on our aprons and set to work on a Chicken Parmi that Matt Moran would be proud of. As there were so many of us, after shredding a couple kilos of cheese, a few of us were given the task of making blankets to provide for those in need.
Once finished cooking, we went downstairs for lunch service. People had lined up around the block for our lunch extravaganza! We had underestimated the appeal and PHD’s Jessie Ho had to make a mad dash to Woolies so that we could feed the masses. Our lunch was a big hit, and we all loved the chance to chat with and serve the community.
At Wayside, there is an attitude of tolerance, community and their motto, “Love over Hate” speaks for itself. I would absolutely recommend the experience to others as it was an extremely rewarding experience. And although at times it is confronting, these are voices that need to be heard.
If you would like to support ngen in this charity initiative, please donate to http://www.everydayhero.com.au/ngen_sydney. Every little bit helps!