To minimise the spread of the Coronavirus one of the strategies was to house homeless people in city hotels. Suddenly, the streets seemed almost empty of people who, only days before, were cold, hungry and need of support. It is suggested that this strategy has had enormous success in connecting with homeless people in such a way as to address the issues that keep them on the streets and find long term accommodation. If this is true, then clearly where there is a will there is a way.
Homelessness impacts more men than women, and it impacts them differently. Domestic violence is the number one cause of homelessness for women, while men are more likely to experience chronic homelessness. Women often have young children — and nearly half of all homeless are under the age of 25. A disproportionate number are indigenous, or born overseas. Facing barriers to things like employment and private rental, or lacking in strong social support networks place people at a higher risk of homelessness. This is why specialised community supports are a vital part of addressing the issue. LifeLink is an agency of the Catholic Church in Western Australia that provides support for vulnerable and marginalised people.
The LIfeLink Winter Sleepout is one of the key fundraising initiatives in our College’s faith in action program or Giving Life, and has become a steadfast tradition in our faith story. Our commitment to LifeLink is founded on our core values of compassion, service and justice.
Compassion refers to kindness and sympathy, but there is something deeper, something even more profoundly powerful, in its meaning. The origin of the word helps us grasp the true breadth and significance of compassion. In Latin, ‘compati’ means “suffer with.” Compassion means someone else’s heartbreak becomes your heartbreak. Another’s suffering becomes your suffering. True compassion changes the way we live.
According to C.S. King, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
The Bible is filled with stories of compassion. Many compassionate Bible characters and stories are told in the Old Testament, and examples of the compassion of Jesus Christ are plentiful in the Gospels. These examples of compassion are a call and challenge to the followers of Jesus – to all of us. They speak of a God who has compassion for his people. They tell of a Saviour who suffers for the world, and they asks us to live and act compassionately.
One way that we demonstrate our compassion is through our support for LifeLink. LifeLink is an organisation established by the Archdiocese of Perth in 1994 to provide for ongoing financial support for community service and social justice agencies established or assisted by the Church. In addition, LifeLink provides promotional support for these agencies to increase public awareness of their work and, in turn, improve community access to their services.
LifeLink’s agencies deliver professional services and caring support to thousands of people in need throughout Western Australia each year. The work of LifeLink is a positive demonstration of Faith in Action.
Last year, LifeLink funded agencies reached out to help over 34,000 Western Australian families and individuals in need, delivering more than $54 million in caring services and professional programmes throughout WA.
As you would be aware, the 2020 LifeLink Sleepout has had to run differently due to the Coronavirus restrictions. I would like to acknowledge the fantastic efforts of staff and students in meeting the challenge this year of sleeping out at home rather than at school and raising funds for LifeLink. In particular, I would like to thank Mrs Sharna Bateman, Mr Ben Bull, Ms Aisling Keating and Ms Kate Dunstan for their organisation of this year’s event. Thank you to the staff who slept over at school, too. Most of all, thank you to our students and families who braved the rain and slept out last night and for raising much needed funds to support people in need. I really enjoyed your Seesaw posts. Special thank you to Mr Guy Jackson for his technical wizardry in making the live stream video such a seamless experience.
The final amount raised is yet to be determined however, since 2011 Holy Cross College has raised in excess of $54,750, not including this year’s amount. This is an exceptional effort and your generosity goes a long way in helping people from around Perth and Western Australia.
In 2019, after receiving our donation, Mr Brett Mendez, Media and Marketing Manager, Catholic Archdiocese of Perth responded:
“What your school does is the standard for what we hope all schools will do. I couldn’t write a strategic campaign that achieves all you do. You should be very proud … we are! Honestly, the impact your gifts have are far reaching. For example, it will help around 2000 people who visit the Shopfront.”
I would like to commend the efforts of the students and families that joined almost 100 others in giving up the comforts of their bed to sleep on the floor or outside in our first virtual sleepout for Lifelink. While I thank everyone who raised much needed funds, I would like to recognise the following students for their outstanding individual contributions:
|Josh and Lily Morrison||$100 each;||Year 4 and 8|
|Perez Vishnu||$180||Year 9|
|Grace Birkett||$225||Year 7|
|Ella Young||$400||Year 9|
LifeLink does not finish with the Winter Sleepout. Throughout the year, there are many people who are in need of help through Catholic services and agencies for food, clothing, shelter, counselling and financial support. I encourage you to continue to show compassion for the vulnerable and marginalised people of our community by volunteering or supporting fundraising events throughout the year.
Thank you all once again and I look forward to your ongoing support.
Isaiah 49:10 says: “They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.” That is, we who are lucky to have all we need have the capacity show compassion and change the world for someone who has very little.