The Katherine Doorways Hub has been open to Katherine for six months.
Hub coordinator Harley Dannatt said if anything the six months has demonstrated the real need for the Hub in Katherine, a place with some of the highest rates of homelessness in Australia.
“People tell me they can’t believe we didn’t start the Hub ten years ago,” Mr Dannatt said.
“There are lots of people in Katherine sleeping in bush camps, we have severe housing shortages and overcrowding in houses.
“Most people accessing the Hub are doing it rough in some way,” he said.
In the first six months of opening, the Hub saw over 7600 individual daily presentations.
“After we opened, daily numbers just kept going up. We now see between 70 and 100 people come through each day,” Mr Dannatt said.
“Some people come every day for breakfast or a shower. We also have new people dropping in all the time, which is great because it means word is spreading that the Hub is a place where you can get help if you are doing it tough,” he said.
Michelle Hill, a Katherine local, has been coming to the Hub everyday since its opening.
She lives in the long grass near the railway with her husband Chris Scott, and walks to the Hub every morning.
The Hub has been like a second home, Mrs Hill said.
It is a place where she can get breakfast, have a shower, wash her clothes, drink water and feel safe among friends and the Hub team.
“We have been looking for a home since 2010, the Hub has been helping us get a tenancy reference,” she said.
“I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t come here.
“I get most of my food from here, we do have some at home but we try to make it last,” she said.
Mrs Hill recycles empty cans when she is not at the Hub, to make a little bit of extra money for food.
But it is hard work, she said, and she would’t want to have to do more than she already does.
The Hub is a community space and drop-in centre to support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Katherine.
People can access a broad range of support services at the Hub, from having a free shower, washing clothes or getting a food parcel, through to a referral into housing or an appointment with a lawyer.
Collaborating services saw 302 people at the Hub in the first six months.
“We have been blown away by the community support. Not only from agencies and services, but from members of the public donating goods or their time. There is a lot of kindness out there in the broader community for the people who drop in to the Hub,” Mr Dannatt said.
The Hub serves soup, generously donated daily by the Catering Department at Katherine District Hospital, five days a week at 11am.
Over 3000 soup lunches were served in the first six months of the Hub being open.
Bread to accompany the soup is donated by Brumby’s Bakery and collected by volunteers.
“The Hospital Kitchen makes an incredible contribution in cooking soup every day. The soup is healthy with meat and vegetables and always delicious.
“We are pretty sure there has never been the same soup twice. It is clearly made with a lot of love and the Hospital Kitchen deserve some community recognition for this,” Mr Dannatt said.
Acting catering manager at the Katherine District Hospital ,Barbara Flynn, said the Kitchen team were thrilled when the soup donation started up again after a short break.
“We knew a lot of people would be effected if they didn’t have access to a hot lunch,” she said.
“We all pitch in with recipes and try to change up the soup on a day to day basis.
“We are a care facility and our caring extends to the whole community,” Ms Flynn said.
The Hub is a pilot program, funded by the Northern Territory Government Department of Housing and Community Development under the Homelessness Innovation Fund.
Housing Minister Gerry McCarthy granted $400,000 over two years for the Katherine pilot program in May 2017.
“The next goal is securing funding past the pilot phase, as we are currently only funded until December 31.
“There is an uncertainty that goes with waiting for the government to say yes to ongoing funding, but we are not worried. We have seen the success of the program.
“After we have secured that funding we will look at increasing opening hours and the amount of services on offer.
“There is still more to be done,” Mr Dannatt said.