The nights are already cold in Ipswich, but Rosies is partnering with Street Doctors and Kotahi Aroha to provide warm hospitality to patrons.
Ipswich Branch Coordinator Michael Byrnes says that Thursday nights in Ipswich are like a big family get together – though the irony is that many of our patrons are families who are doing it tough.
‘We’re seeing lots of kids,’ said Michael.
‘Last night we saw about 90 people in the park, and about 30 of them were children.’
‘I was shocked.’
There are so many children coming to visit the Rosies van that a volunteer on each team spends their shift making hot Milo for them and ensuring they’re comfortable and warm while they’re there.
‘I’ve got a fair idea that a few of them are sleeping in cars, but some of them have homes – they just have no money. They’re coming out to get something to eat.’
Kotahi Aroha are a charity group based in Logan who make the trip to Ipswich every Thursday to provide hot meals to Rosies patrons.
They also bring canned food for patrons to take home with them.
Michael says that sharing park space with Rosies actually changes the way that groups like Kotahi Aroha engage with patrons.
Once the group serves patrons with a meal, their volunteers enjoy a cuppa from the Rosies van and spend time chatting with patrons.
‘It makes for a very harmonious night,’ said Michael.
‘We all eat together like a family.’
The Street Doctors also visit on Thursday night with their mobile GP surgery to provide medical services to patrons in need.
Demand for the Street Doctors services are increasing as patrons become more familiar with the service.
The doctors also share a cuppa and chat with patrons in between consultations which helps to build trust.
‘The doctors used to see about 6 patrons each night, but in the last couple of weeks that’s doubled to around a dozen.’
‘The fact that the doctors can be social with a cuppa – it does make a difference.’
Michael said that as the weather gets colder, patrons are seeking shelter for the night earlier.
‘We’ve changed our outreach times on Friday nights to start at 7pm rather than 8pm.’
‘We found that our patrons were arriving as early as 5 or 6pm and waiting for us to come and give them a hot drink or some noodles to fight off the cold.’
The Ipswich branch is facing an increase in demand for warm blankets and Backpack Beds.
During winter, temperatures overnight can drop to below zero, making a warm place to sleep a matter of survival rather than comfort.