Well, what can we say? We are blown away by the amazing generosity of you, our Sonshine family, as we have wrapped up our 5th annual Heart For The Homeless appeal this week. After three days of collecting, counting, and distributing the items you donated to our partners at St Pat’s, One Voice and Uniting WA, we are excited to announce that we’ve exceeded all previous Heart For The Homeless tallies!

Kirste and Dan at the sorting facility for Sonshine's Heart for the Homeless Campaign

Kirste and Dan at the sorting facility for Sonshine’s Heart for the Homeless Campaign

Throughout July we asked you to donate sleeping bags, warm clothing, toiletries and other essential items at 19 drop off locations across Perth, to help the thousands of Western Australians who have no safe and warm place to sleep in our state on any given night. Over the past few weeks we’ve heard from representatives from our partners in the appeal, One Voice, St Pat’s and Uniting WA, who shared about the important work they do in our homeless community and the impacts they see every day. We were also blessed to hear from a couple of people who have experienced homelessness first hand, and were able to share how the work of our partner organisations has impacted them when they needed it most.

Why do we run the appeal?

There’s some quite startling figures that make this appeal so important, with latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing that WA has the highest number of people per capita sleeping rough in Australia. Approximately 1 in every 4 people experiencing homelessness in WA are sleeping outdoors. With the housing and affordability crisis currently being seen in our state our partner organisations have confirmed that homelessness is most certainly on the rise.

St Pat’s CEO Michael Piu says, for the first time in their 50-year history, they have more women than men accessing their Emergency Relief. “They’re often caring for children, parents and other family members, so we’re witnessing the impact of homelessness and poverty across generations. Demand for crisis accommodation, as well as affordable housing, is also at a premium. This means people are needing essential support for longer periods than usual, putting a strain on the resources of all organisations.”

The Sonshine team unload thousands of donated items to the distribution partners of Sonshine's Heart for the Homeless Campaign

The Sonshine team unload thousands of donated items to the distribution partners of Sonshine’s Heart for the Homeless Campaign

Sonshine CEO Bevan Jones says, as a community media organization, we have a real desire to help. “At Sonshine’s heart, we believe in extending warmth and compassion to those who need it most. Throughout July, together with One Voice, St Pat’s, and Uniting WA, we asked our generous community to support vulnerable West Aussies by providing essential items to keep them safe, comfortable, and dignified. Together, we’re so pleased to have seen our community come together to make a significant impact on the lives of those sleeping rough in Perth.”

So what was the final tally?

During last year’s Heart For The Homeless Appeal we collected more than 8,200 items, and this year we’d hoped to break the 10,000 item barrier. And, we can confirm that thanks to your generous support we were able to see this happen. The final tally for our Heart For The Homeless Appeal 2023 was 10,709 items! This included 239 sleeping bags, 262 blankets, 1087 pairs of socks, 950 items of warm clothing, 438, beanies, scarves & gloves, 5,519 toiletries and more.

Items collected from the appeal are distributed to people accessing support from Uniting WA’s Tranby Engagement Hub in Perth, St Pat’s Community Centre in Fremantle, and One Voice mobile shower locations. “Small things like having clean socks, underwear and a toothbrush really help people who are sleeping rough maintain their sense of dignity,” said Uniting WA CoCEO Michael Chester. “Which is why the donated supplies received from HTFH are so crucial to our services as we work to get people through the harsh winter period,” he said.

The Sonshine team and distribution partner Uniting WA

One Voice provides shower trucks with hot showers and essential toiletries for those sleeping rough. The organisation’s Aaron Pryce says Heart For The Homeless empowers the community to make a real difference. “This partnership goes beyond raising awareness; it shows us that together we can achieve so much more. We can touch the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness, while also fostering a profound sense of connection within our city. These simple acts of kindness transcend material possessions. It shows that by working hand in hand, we can make a lasting impact, break the cycle of homelessness, and create a world where everyone has access to the basic necessities that promote human dignity.”

A big thank you!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the appeal, including our many collection points: Woodvale Baptist, Riverview Church, Mount Pleasant Baptist, St Stephens, New Life Fremantle, C3 Hepburn Heights, Lakeside Baptist, Power To Empower Gym, Lynford, Melville Mitsubishi, Ellenbrook Baptist Church, East Fremantle Baptist Church, Perth Bible College, Kalamunda Church of Christ, Centre Point Church, Chosen Church and Providence Christian College.

Major Sponsor and Collection point: Melville Mitsubishi

A special thanks also goes to Velocity Church, who were not only a collection point, but also gave us their church facility as a place to gather, count and sort all of the Heart For The Homeless donations this week. Also thank to Titan Ford who provided vans for us to collect and distribute the donations. We’re truly humbled by your support, and we know that our amazing partners at One Voice, St Pat’s and Uniting WA will make sure all of these items make a big impact on the lives of the 9,000 West Aussies who are sleeping rough on any given night.

Heart for the Homeless – proudly supported by One Voice, St Pat’s, Uniting WA, St Stephens School, Lynford, Titan Ford, Melville Mitsubishi and Sonshine.