Whanganui Homeless Hub offers vaccinations and looks after the vulnerable of its community

Whanganui Homeless Hub offers vaccinations and looks after the vulnerable of its community

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Whanganui Homeless Hub located at the Anzac Parade freedom camping site is a place that looks after its vulnerable homeless community with assistance from generous people who donate stuff to them.

The Koha Shed which operates the Whanganui Homeless Hub is a non-funded charity organisation — no government funding is given to them to support what they do for the community. They are the only 24-hour emergency shelter and advocacy support service operating in the area.

People make financial donations allowing them to purchase food and keep the less fortunate fed. The food that is purchased with donation money is delivered to working families and homeless individuals.

Source: CC/ Sam Hudson

Sherron Sunnex, founder and manager of the Koha Shed, says rising rent and supermarket prices have caused a big problem for those in desperate need of supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are non-funded apart from the beautiful donations that the community has made during Covid-19 to allow us to purchase food and deliver it to families. We've had a huge request for food in Whanganui — not just from our homeless but our working people and other people that are struggling,” Ms Sunnex said.

“We are a food bank. There were a couple of places that we know people are all living together, and their rents are really high, so we do deliver food to them non-contact.”

“There's a lot of people that struggle and over the pandemic it's become even worse because a lot were dependent on school lunches and children at home locked up all day tend to eat a lot more. Their food supplies are running out. Food has gone up, so all that compounded makes food poverty really real.”

She added; “we have had a lot donated”, commemorating Whanganui for being “really generous” as a community.

The charity organisation set up garage sales and a popup shop to fundraise money so they could pay for costs associated with offering the service before Covid-19 came along.

A large amount of support is given to the Koha Shed now that Covid-19 has come along and it is a place for people to come together. The goal is to work out a solution for the homelessness problem in the area.

Source: CC/ Sam Hudson

Covid-19 vaccinations have been undertaken at the site for those willingly taking up the offer, adding another layer of protection.

Whanganui District Health Board works collaboratively at the Whanganui Homeless Hub to administer vaccinations directly to the homeless.

It not only supports those struggling with food but to stay safe from the virus during the pandemic.

Source: CC/ Sam Hudson

A free sausage sizzle is offered to those coming in hungry and who needed it. The team — Murray and the sizzle sisters — volunteering had handed them out.

They follow public health protocols to keep everyone safe such as wearing face masks, gloves, washing hands consistently and sanitising.

Wholesaler Murray Robinson owns shop Murray's Emporium on Barrack St across the Whanganui River from the Whanganui Homeless Hub. He profits from selling to wholesalers and then sells bits and pieces at his retail store, but recent Covid-19 Alert Level changes have given him a break that he's fortunately happy with.

“We do this to feed the hungry, the homeless, and the people struggling with their rent. That crowd struggling with rent is getting bigger and bigger in New Zealand. It's only a little thing, but we are doing it,” he said.

“[Today] about thirty sausages have been given out, so we're satisfied with what we do.”

“I've got a shop just across the river. I work six days a week which is twenty hours a day, and the lockdown has been great so far. I'm enjoying it doing this.”

A previous version of this publication was titled incorrectly due to a miscommunication mishap. The changes have been reflected.

Image: SUPPLIED/Sam Hudson

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