What the papers say: Coats for the Homeless article on Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese website
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
12 Dec 2013
Last year the NSW Order of Malta distributed 1000 specially designed coats to the homeless. Photography courtesy West Australian Newspapers
Over the past six years members of the Order of Malta’s NSW Branch have raised more than $1,123,117 for Gorman House, the residential detoxification unit at St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst.
Members have also contributed generously to St Joseph’s Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit and committed a further $25,000 over the next 12 months.
In addition, the Order of Malta have given thousands of coats free of charge to the homeless.
Now on the eve of Christmas, the Chairman of Order of Malta’s NSW branch, David Hall is asking families to consider giving three or more of these specially-designed coats to the homeless this Christmas.
“A gift of $100 is enough to buy three of these unique coats,” David Hall says adding that each night throughout the year as many as 20,000 Australians are forced to sleep rough in parks and the streets of cities and towns across the country.
More than 5000 of these are under the age of 18 years. However more than half of those who seek accommodation from the homeless service system are turned away, with all beds at the shelters and hostels already at capacity.
With no home and not even a car in which to bed down, the nation’s homeless not only face exposure to wind, rain and cold but they also have to contend with the constant risk of violence and theft.
The Order of Malta which is committed to helping the sick, poor and vulnerable, was determined to do something to help Australia’s street people with David Scarf AM and other members spending time with the residents of the Matthew Talbot Hostel at Woolloomooloo. They wanted to better understand the needs of the homeless and those forced to sleep on the streets.
David Scarf, who is now the Order of Malta’s Ambassador to Timor-Leste, then set about designing a coat for the homeless that would help protect them from the elements as well as from robbery or assault.
The three-quarter coat he designed is quilted for warmth, comes with a hood, is showerproof and light enough to be easily carried or stowed. The coat also comes with hidden pockets to protect the few valuables the homeless may have and is purposely made up in black to prevent wearers from standing out in the crowd and being subjected to physical violence or theft.
“The guys can sleep in them; they don’t have zippers or buttons or anything that would press into them. The guys love them,” said Marty Nezval, volunteer and Pastoral Services Manager at the Matthew Talbot Hostel when members of the Order of Malta gave away the first batch of coats almost a decade ago.
Since then the Order has given away thousands of these coats, not only here in NSW but across Australia.
Order of Malta committed to helping the poor, sick and in need
“But unfortunately demand continues to outstrip supply,” says David Hall and hopes with the public’s help to be able to double the number of coats distributed to ensure more people who sleep on the streets, particularly those on the streets during the winter months, have some protection from the elements.
Last year the NSW Branch distributed 1000 coats to the homeless and next year hope to distribute 2000.
Throughout the year members of the Order hold barbecues and fundraising events but their work is also dependant on the generosity of supporters and donors.
If you would like to support the Charitable Works of the Order you can donate online to one of our projects.