Dean Evers started Hope For The Homeless three years ago, and it has already helped many locals in need. They provide items such as clothing, tents and blankets to people who find themselves without secure housing, and also help those who secure a home to set up.
Hi Dean. Have you always been a Coffs Coast local? What’s your history here?
I moved here in 1994 with my family from the Northern Beaches of Sydney. We bought a home in middle Boambee and raised our family. I decided to go to uni and achieved a Bach of Social Science degree and shortly after joined the Department of Community Services (DoCS). I spent nearly 18 years in the human services sector, and my last official position was
Can you tell us how Hope for the Homeless came about?
Nearly three years ago, I saw an opportunity for an independent local charity to help those individuals who were in need and those who were homeless. If someone needed an item and another had the item, I simply became the conduit to collect and deliver. It all steamrolled from there.
Was homelessness something that was already on your radar? Or were you surprised to find out that it was such an issue even here?
My early days in DoCS, I was involved in community discussions on how the community could address the homeless issue. Fast forward nearly 20 years, and the situation had become even more of a crisis. We have many individuals and families living in tents, in cars, couch surfing, and there is a huge waiting list for community housing.
What are some of the most common causes of homelessness?
It is well documented that domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness in Australia. Homelessness can be the result of many social, economic and health-related factors. Research shows people can become homeless after many years of experiencing poverty, poor relationships and drug, alcohol or mental health issues.
How do you hope that Hope for the Homeless can help people who find themselves without accommodation?
We happily donate free of charge any items they may need, like clothing, tents, blankets, cooking utensils, etc. When someone who has been homeless is fortunate enough to secure housing, we donate any or all items they need to set up home. For those individuals and families, it’s like going on a shopping spree for free.
How can the community support Hope for the Homeless, or get involved?
We use the phrase “Locals Supporting Locals”, meaning it’s about helping others who need help as a priority. The community can support and be involved by donating goods, or donating their time to volunteer at The Hope Shop at 9 Collison Place, South Coffs Harbour.
Support is also coming into our shop and finding a great bargain. We stock bedding, furniture, clothing, kitchenware, homeware and all types of wonderful things. We happily open our doors to anyone experiencing hardship, without all the red tape. We don’t believe in creating more barriers to find assistance.
What do you think we can all do to minimise the stigma around homelessness?
We, as a community, need to see the individuals as people first – as we do with other individuals, like people with a disability, people with mental health issues, and people who are homeless. We need to remember that homelessness can happen to anyone. It’s not a condition; it’s a situation.
Can you tell us about a favourite success story or a time you felt really proud of Hope for the Homeless?
We have been fortunate enough to have assisted literally hundreds of families. Each one is a small success story on its own. In recent months, thanks to McGrath Estate Agents Community Giveback Program, we have received three $500 cheques from anonymous vendors.
I am very proud that individuals I don’t even know think enough of what we are doing to contribute towards us.
Where do you see this charity evolving to? What are your hopes for the future of this project?
I would like to see us continue to grow the business and create a Homeless Hub that provides support, information, breakfast and food support, referral and advocacy to homeless people or those at risk of homelessness.
I would love to be able to lease and maintain a facility offering overnight and short term shelter.
You have a special event coming up; can you tell us about that?
On Saturday 13th July we held the Inaugural Coffs Coast Motor Show at the Coffs Harbour Showgrounds. The Coffs Coast Motor Show was a major fundraiser for Hope for the Homeless – Coffs Harbour Inc., and we were able to raise a lot of money that will assist with our operational costs.
The event was a Show’ N’ Shine for cars, bikes and trucks. Due to the wonderful response from the community, we will be holding another Motor Show early next year, incorporating a new event for those who find themselves homeless. Our event will be bigger and better and even more inclusive.