Big turnout to remember the silent passing of the homeless
A dedicated crowd braved bitterly cold conditions in Martin Place for the annual Homeless Memorial Service in the heart of the city on June 21.
The public ceremony – now in its third year – is an opportunity for the community to remember those lives and to grieve for all individuals who have died on the streets or in shelters over the past year.
Two hundred mourners braved the cold to remember the passing of too many homeless people.
PAYCE Foundation and End Street Sleeping Collaboration Director Dominic Sullivan said he was pleased with the response to this year’s special service, with more than 200 people attending.
The PAYCE Foundation is the founding philanthropic partner of the End Street Sleeping Collaboration.
The 2023 NSW Street Count published on the day of the service revealed a 34 per cent increase in rough sleepers in 12 months.
Mr Sullivan said: “The terrible truth is that many homeless people who pass away are not commemorated
“With Australia, in the midst of a housing crisis and Sydney being the epicentre of that crisis, we fear the number will grow.”
Mr Sullivan said social service organisations were calling on all Local and State Governments to implement a uniform nation-wide Code Red/ Code Blue emergency response protocol for rough sleepers in extreme weather events.”
“Climate change has a disproportionate impact on homeless people. As the frequency of extreme weather events is expected to increase, governments and communities need to collaborate to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected.”
In addition to the general community, the memorial service also welcomed the friends, families, and carers of those that have sadly died, including the many outreach and health workers, volunteers, and other community workers that work with those experiencing homelessness.
The Service was supported by a number of charities and community organisations, including the End Street Sleeping Collaboration, the Wayside Chapel, the Office of Justice & Peace, and Catholic Cemeteries. Two legendary community choirs performed – the Honeybees Choir and the Sydney Street Choir.
Former rough sleeper Andrew Windsor spoke at the event, giving a eulogy for his deceased friends.
“Just a few weeks ago, one of my homeless brothers died, and at present someone who in my own homeless journey was instrumental in getting me off the streets is also in palliative care,” Mr Windsor said.
Mr Sullivan said: “This is a unique opportunity to remember and celebrate the lives of those that died without a home, and often without a commemoration.
“The aim of the End Street Sleeping Collaboration is to bring attention to the plight experienced by so many people sleeping rough, and to ensure no-one should be living or dying on our streets. As a community we need to understand that homelessness is solvable.”