At 300 Blankets, we put all of our energy into developing and growing our four core pillars which define who we are: Blankets, Education, Community Engagement, and Outreach. We constantly challenge each of our defining pillars to ensure we not only serve an important purpose in our community but continue to make a significant difference to people at risk, or experiencing homelessness.
In 2015, we distributed 2084 blankets to beneficiaries across Victoria. The blankets gives us a meaningful opportunity to reach out to people who might otherwise avoid services. Many of our blankets also contain meaningful messages hand written by members of our community to show the recipient that we are from a community that cares. The 2084 instances of reaching a person requiring a blanket was the most we have ever distributed in a 12 month period. We introduced three new beneficiaries and are now providing blankets to St Vincent de Paul Soup Vans, Wesley Mission, Launch Housing, Urban Seed and the Royal District Nursing Service – Homeless People Program.
Our Education pillar strengthened through working with a wide range of educational institutions involving RMIT University, Melbourne University, Ivanhoe Grammar, Marist Regional Collage, Mercy Regional Collage, St Mary’s Primary School, and St Francis de Sales Primary School. Projects with the schools and universities such as the RMIT University – Breaking Down Barriers and the St Francis de Sales Primary School – Action Team project were aimed at challenging students on how they could make a positive impact on the community.
Through Community Engagement, we worked with the Rotary Club of Werribee, St John Baptist Social Justice Group, the Rotary Club Radio and the Rotary Club of Booroondara. At 300 Blankets, we are advocates of educating the wider community about the realities of homelessness. It is the stigma that separates divides the community. Our education programs is designed to break down the barriers and encourage social cohesion.
The 300 Blankets Outreach Program launched in 2015 and is quickly becoming one of the most important areas of our charity. This year, we inducted over 40 new volunteers, many of whom have never volunteered before. The Outreach Program serves two purposes:
- The first and most important is for our volunteers to be able to engage and develop important relationships with people who are homeless. Social isolation is a major cause of mental illness and our outreach program promotes conversation with people who may not have spoken to anyone for a day or even longer. The volunteers are also equipped with blankets, personal hygiene products and many other necessities.
- The second purpose is to introduce and expose the realities of homelessness and the concept of volunteering to the greater community. In the Outreach Program, volunteers experience how easy it is to make a difference. Most of the volunteers who come through this program are now on our regular list
We continue to experience challenges in finding appropriate storage solutions and means of transporting both products and volunteers. As we grow, we are approached by more organisations and community groups requesting resources resulting in a greater demand for funding. We feel bittersweet about the prospects of continued growth and our role in the community. Whilst we are providing more, the number of people experiencing homelessness and requiring our services has not declined. This year we also started working with Meals@theBridge and Crepes for Change. So whilst we may feel undermanned at times, we are determined to face these challenges knowing that we are not alone in the battle.
Our achievements in 2015 would not have been possible without the generous support of the greater community. We are grateful for everyone who have put their hands up to volunteer at our fundraising events, Outreach Program, and even just help spread the awareness of our cause. We are thankful for all of the organisations and individuals who have supported our fundraising and outreach campaigns including StreetSmart Australia, OneRoadHome, Myer, Sechoir Blowout Bar, Moores Lawyers, Libra, Flowers Across Melbourne, Soniq, Rotary Club of Werribee and Rotary Club of Boorondara.
As we gear up for an even bigger 2016, we ask that you contact us and see how you can help make a difference and keep our community warm.