Warms the soul

ST PATS Community Support Centre’s winter appeal got off to a warm start this week, with a donation of warm coats from the Order of Malta.

The order is a lay Catholic organisation with roots stretching back to the crusades, says chair and co-ordinator of the WA chapter Michael Shanahan.

Dr Shanahan says 300 coats were delivered throughout Perth this year, all providing the equivalent warmth and comfort of a sleeping bag.

They were manufactured in black to make them more inconspicuous because of the dangers homeless people face on the street, and designed so they could also run away if that didn’t work.

• Edward Forrest and Lois Olney’s (centre) nights on the street will be a little more comfortable thanks to the donation of coats from Michael Shanahan (right), pictured with St Pats director of homelessness and support services Victor Crevatin (left). Photo by Stephen Pollock

They also come with deep inside pockets so the owners have somewhere safe to store their most important possessions.

“We are looking to deliver the same number of coats next year,” says Dr Shanahan. But he warns storing them over the warmer months is tricky, while they only last one season because homeless life is pretty tough on them.

While the coats were welcomed at St Pats, deputy CEO Michael Piu says it’s just a start to what they’ll need to provide shelter and support for Fremantle’s large population of homeless people.

“Winter is the most difficult time of year for our clients,” says Mr Piu.

“In summertime people who have no home sleep out of doors and worry about their personal safety and the safety of their belongings, but in winter this is a different proposition entirely.

“A simple cold can escalate to pneumonia if you’re constantly exposed to the elements.

“It’s easy to feel hopeless about the situation of the homeless in Australia but there are tangible, helpful ways we can all contribute to create a more just and equitable community,” Mr Piu said. A quick way to help is to make a donation; head to http://www.stpats.com.au/donate.

by STEVE GRANT

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