300 Blankets has entered into the third Australian winter with continued growth. The important expansion has enabled us to spread warmth to more people, and educate the broader community about the need for providing warmth to the growing number of people experiencing homelessness. As we grow, we are continuing to learn just how large and difficult the task is. But we know together, we will keep fighting to keep our community warm.
In the first six months of 2014 we have;
- provided over 1800 new and rescued blankets to existing and new beneficiaries
- completed over 2500 hours volunteering directly with people experiencing homelessness
- held two successful fundraising events to boost blankets drive
- participated in new community events and initiatives to expand our exposure to the broader community
- expanded our interactions with educational institutions to educate, inspire, and expose the values and benefits of supporting the community
- developed and strengthened relationships with new and existing partners
- received a generous grant from StreetSmart to assist with operations
- developing a sustainability program to promote recycling and rescuing blankets
In the first half of 2014 we have distributed over 1800 blankets to people experiencing homelessness through our network of beneficiaries. Although a large portion of the blankets distributed were brand new, we worked with various organisations on special collections to receive rescued blankets. As part of our pilot sustainability program, rescued blankets will begin to play a larger role to achieve our mission. Our list of beneficiaries have grown this year to include St Vincent de Paul Society – Victoria, Hanover Welfare Services, Manna Inc., Royal District Nursing Service – Homeless Persons Program, and Hearts For Homeless. We are thankful for charity initiatives who help distribute our blankets as they form the crucial step in helping spread warmth to people who need it most.
This year 300 Blankets volunteers have completed over 2500 hours so far of community work to help spread the warmth of friendship. We must never underestimate the importance of friendship especially for people who have lost so much. Friendships created can easily start from a volunteer giving a blanket to a person and just a simple chat about footy. It is so easy yet so important. We are continuing to look for more ways for volunteers to reach people through touch.
Fundraising events continues to be an important element from our calendar to drive funding to purchase blankets. This year we have held two annualised events – Music for Blankets and Brains for Blankets. The success of these events provided not only funding but are drivers to reach new potential supporters and donors.
In addition to fundraising events we participate in community events to bring awareness of the importance of warmth for people experiencing homelessness. Our most recent stall was featured at the Good Neighbour Month launch event which enabled our team to interact with like minded community groups and initiatives.
Building relationships with organisations across all industries is crucial for spreading awareness on the plight of people experiencing homelessness. Our good friends such as Terrain Tamer continues promote our cause and sell blankets at their shows, Myer continues to support our cause through the donation of products for fundraising purposes, and Bliss Media continues to provide 300 Blankets with online support.
To develop our sustainability program, we have developed a partnership with Novotel – Glen Waverley, to recycle by redistributing hotel quality sheets and pillow cases to crisis accommodations and boarding houses across Victoria. This program has benefited two crisis accommodations operated by Hanover Welfare Services, companions participating in the Compeer Program, and various boarding houses managed by the St Vincent de Paul Society – Victoria soup vans.
We have also built an important partnership with STREAT – a social enterprise with a mission to ending youth homelessness. With STREAT, so far we have been distributed 300 Pay It Forward coffee cards to people who could do with an extra hug inside and out.
Education and Research
In the last six months we have been involved with RMIT University, Victoria University and Camberwell South Primary School. Our engagements with the education institutes created opportunities for the 300 Blankets team to work with the next generation to teach about the importance of supporting the community. The underlying message reiterates a quote from Sydney Smith – “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little. Do what you can.”
The 300 Blankets team also participated in the City of Melbourne Street Count – a research initiative into homelessness.
In the next half of this year we plan to engage with more educational institutions as we see the potential to inspire and educate the future generation of leaders a critical step towards ending homelessness.
We have started planning for the future of 300 Blankets and how we can spread more warmth to our community through various initiatives. To achieve our plans we have started building new teams. In a community where our neighbors are becoming harder and harder to define yet ever more important to reach, we have ambitious plans to be the change we want to see in the world.
The success of the first half of 2014 has been achieved through the generous support of volunteers. Operation funding has been greatly appreciated through a generous grant received from StreetSmart. The spread of warmth would not have been possible without your support. Thank you. Together we can keep our community warm.