Samaritans are an organisation providing disability services, disability care, youth, family, mental health and community support within the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle, which covers the regions of Newcastle, Central Coast and The Hunter.
The Wickham Student Accommodation facility provides accommodation and mentoring to homeless youth. Part of the requirement is that the individual must be enrolled in a course of study; school, TAFE, university etc. Students are provided with assistance in job placements at the completion of their studies and with self managed accommodation in the private sector.
Our contact there was Barbara, the manager of the facility, who took us on a tour of the building.
The building was originally the Wickham Public School, which opened at this location about 1900, and closed in 1976. The building was purchased by the Samaritans from Newcastle City Council in 2012. It has since been converted into 23 units, mostly one bedroom, but there are 2 units with 2 bedrooms and a couple of studio apartments, all with bathrooms and kitchens. Most of the units have such tall ceilings that they have a mezzanine floor in the living area as well, a great spot to study. There is a communal lounge and laundry. The ceilings are high and the hallways are wide. The ceiling height windows at the front of the building open out onto spectacular views of Newcastle Harbour.
The small garden at the front was planted out by the Lions Club, and OzHarvest provide perishable food supplies on a Friday.
We had been requested to provide a queen size quilt, a double bed size quilt, a little boy's cot quilt and one for a newborn girl due in October. Here is what we took with us:
This is for the baby girl
And the one is for the little boy
The double quilt
And the queen...
I took this one outside to photograph, and Tibby was out like a streak of lightning. It was interesting though. Normally she goes straight up onto the quilt and settles down for the duration. This time she put out her paw suspiciously, gave it a tiny pat, and then turned away!
I asked Barbara to pose with a quilt, and she immediately went for this one. Judging by the grin, I think she liked it.
And then she took up the baby quilt
During the time we were there, Barbara spoke about what they were doing, and told us a few stories. What an inspiring organisation! I am so glad that we were able to help in our small way.