People living with disadvantage in the Northern Rivers region have had a challenging 18 months

Bush fires, flooding, job losses due to COVID-19, reduced JobSeeker, and a severe housing crisis in the area.

Homelessness and poverty has become the new normal for an increasing number of people prompting HopeStreet to extend our services. Our team reached out to Lismore residents through a Pop-Up Van offering relief and affordable food, activated early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

HopeStreet’s manager, Nathan Hampshire has seen first-hand the challenges experienced by people and remains concerned that struggles are not easing.

“Our clients who were struggling before the pandemic are now contending with limited and unstable housing, huge rents, trying to afford food, bills and medical expenses. It’s become really stressful, especially for those on low incomes and government benefits,” he said.

“We hear food is one of the first things people reduce or go without to make ends meet, and it’s hard to see. There’s sometimes shame or uncertainty about asking for help, but our team welcome and offer assistance to anyone, regardless of who they are or what is happening for them.”

The HopeStreet Pop-Up van visits three locations each Thursday, including a park near a local caravan park, outside The Salvation Army Church in Goonellabah, and alongside BaptistCare’s community housing on Dibbs Street.

“Our team of staff, volunteers and our chaplain are supporting more than 110 people each month, many who come to us weekly. Low-cost food including fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, and emergency relief packs are in huge demand. Our no interest loans, casework support including referrals for housing or mental health, and even a coffee and a chat are the many ways we’re coming alongside people,” said Nathan.

“The van has been vital, as the problem of access to services is removed. Being able to take food directly to where people are makes a difference for people in Lismore who are doing it tough.”

You can support our HopeStreet Northern Rivers team by:

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To see how else you can help, email local HopeStreet manager, Nathan via NHampshire@baptistcare.org.au