Some have been homeless for years. Others have just run out of luck and have nowhere else to sleep. One man has been in a motel but the prices have gone up during the Commonwealth Games.
They’re all at the Safe Haven, a temporary shelter run by Red Cross on the Gold Coast during the Commonwealth Games.
Offering a bed for 20 people experiencing homelessness each night, along with free hot showers, meals and information, the Safe Haven has provided an overnight bed on more than 270 occasions over 16 days.
Red Cross was engaged by the Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works to operate the Safe Haven due to our expertise in managing evacuation centres, as well as our work with people who are homeless in several locations across Queensland.
Red Cross workers Christina and Tania at the Safe Haven as people prepare to bed down for the night
“The best thing is having a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, getting fed food, having a shower, feeling safe and meeting nice people,” enthuses Tamara.
“Red Cross has been doing an excellent job. The guys are really helpful.”
Red Cross worker Christina with people who’ve used the Safe Haven
The 27-year-old mother of four explains that she’d previously had an unoccupied store room which she’d set up as a makeshift home. It was perfect for her, with a bed, light, power, and lockable door. But someone changed the lock, and now she’s unable to retrieve her gear and is searching for a new place to sleep.
Others share a similar story.
Some have found unoccupied motel rooms, still with beds in them, which are closed pending demolition. Another person found a room behind a vacant office block. But that was knocked down to make way for a high rise.
And there’s always the beach. Some prefer the beach as you can get away from people who are annoying. Others say they find it too cold, or there are too many mosquitos.
But they all agree the Safe Haven has been provided much-needed relief for the two weeks it was open.
Jason says he was renting a shed, but the leaseholders got evicted for not paying rent, forcing him to the streets.
“I started ringing around and this was available.” If this wasn’t here, he says, he’d be at a garden near the beach he used last year. He’s enjoying the respite, saying the best things are the Milo and the food. “I haven’t got any teeth and the stew that I had last night is the best thing I’ve had in five months!”
Another young man says if he didn’t have the bed at the Safe Haven he’d have been become sick.
“I got crook last week sleeping on the street,” he says.
He says he’s enjoyed having somewhere comfortable to lay his head, as well as the chance to make new friends.
“My family don’t want me at mum and dad’s so I’m thankful for this place.”
Some of the people who stayed at the Safe Haven, run by Red Cross on the Gold Coast during the Commonwealth Games
Another guest at the shelter, a woman who normally sleeps on the beach or in a park, says she’s appreciated the friendly smiling faces and the help people have offered her.
“I’m very appreciative.
“I’ve been homeless for 14 months now. Hopefully I’ll talk to some social workers here tomorrow and get some more advice about where the best place is to go from here.”
In Queensland, Red Cross connects people facing homelessness with services that can provide respite and accommodation.
More on our work: https://www.redcross.org.au/get-help/community-services/homelessness-services