According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 987 people in Parramatta were homeless in 2016, which was up 22 per cent from 2011.

The Rapid Relief Team (RRT) is boosting its support for Western Sydney’s homeless and joining the Western Sydney Homeless Connect Steering Committee (WSHC) for the first time.

The WSHC launched on Wednesday at Town Hall, Parramatta Square, and included the RRT, St Vincent de Paul NSW and Parramatta Mission.

The launch brought together the local community and steering committee members to promote the 2018 Western Sydney Homeless Connect, which will be held on Monday 6 August, and provide a ‘one stop shop’ for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

Frontline services in areas including housing, legal and government, will offer their services and provide assistance to some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

The WSHC was founded in 2013 and comprises a group of dedicated volunteers who connect people experiencing homelessness in Western Sydney with frontline support services.

The RRT has supported the catering for WSHC for three years and is looking forward to increasing its contribution to the WSHC this year as a Steering Committee member.

An initiative of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, RRT is staffed by Church volunteers who provide catering services during a range of emergencies and charitable events.

Lloyd Grimshaw from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, said this annual event and WSHC’s cause is extremely important to RRT’s volunteers.

“We are pleased to continue our contributions to the WSHC Committee Steering Committee, this time in an even greater way,” Mr Grimshaw said.

“We have supported the WSHC for three years and this year we are increasing our efforts. We will have a barista on hand to make coffee and we will serve gourmet burgers for lunch.

“We jumped at the opportunity to contribute to such an important event on 6 August.

“This will be a tremendous effort for our volunteers as we expect to feed 1000 people. We genuinely hope the event will connect individuals and families with frontline services”.

Susan Goldie, Executive Officer of Retail Strategy for St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, said her organisation is excited about the annual event and is confident about its success.

“We know that the event will be as successful as it has been in previous years due to the hard work and dedication of the steering committee, service providers and volunteers,” she said.

“It provides a real opportunity for volunteers and community members to connect with those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and may be experiencing social isolation.

“The WSHC is a great way to engage in a relaxed and friendly setting, rekindling a sense of community belonging for those who attend.”

The WSHC has now connected more than 1500 people to support providers who assist people experiencing homelessness to break out of the cycle of homelessness and disadvantage.

Every day in some small way, RRT volunteers offer a helping hand to those in need. For more information about the Rapid Relief Team, go to https://www.rapidreliefteam.org/

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