Leanne Gilchrist and Bryan Jamison from Vinnies Mary's Place with SAE Group's Mitch Lucas and Apiata Noema during the installation of a 16-panel 6.48kW system the company donated to the homeless service.
Leanne Gilchrist and Bryan Jamison from Vinnies Mary's Place with SAE Group's Mitch Lucas and Apiata Noema during the installation of a 16-panel 6.48kW system the company donated to the homeless service.

New support centre for people living in homelessness

A NEW drop-in centre for people living homeless opened this week in Ballina.

The centre is located on the corner of Treelands Crescent and Moon Street, Ballina, and was named Mary's Place, in honour of Aileen Mary Delaney, who made a generous bequest to St Vincent De Paul.

The drop-in centre will service a population with one of the highest homelessness rates in regional NSW.

Mary's Place will provide light refreshments, showering facilities, outdoor space for socialising, computer access, medical and nursing care, Centrelink engagement service, legal and housing support, and psychological and counselling services.

The free service will be open on weekdays between 8.30am and 12.30pm, with outreach services visiting to help those who drop by.

It will operate between 1pm and 3.30pm for more in-depth casework.

Team Leader Bryan Jamison said Mary's Place has volunteering opportunities for suitable local people and invites anyone interested to contact him on 0457 896 407.

Adjacent to Mary's Place is Harmony House, a three-bedroom service providing accommodation for residents transitioning back into community living after facing major challenges that may have included homelessness.

Vinnies Services Executive Director Niamh Mannion said Harmony House retains its original name and has been fully refurbished and upgraded.

"Research shows that Ballina experiences significant levels of disadvantage compared to NSW generally in terms of income, education and employment opportunities," Ms Mannion said.

"The latest Census revealed more than 500 people in the Ballina LGA were either homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

"Mary's Place is the first and only such service in this fast growing and generally affluent coastal town, and we are proud to have the strong support of the community.

"Ballina Shire Council has been behind the project from the start, as has Ballina MP Tamara Smith, and local service clubs and businesses. It has been a wonderful community endeavour, with everyone recognising the need for a service of this kind."

Mary's Place is the latest drop-in service run by St Vincent de Paul for disadvantaged people on the Far North Coast of NSW, following the successful establishment of Fred's Place in Tweed Heads and Pete's Place in Coffs Harbour.


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