As you snuggle up in your cosy, warm bed at night, have you ever given a thought to the growing number of people who do not have a roof over their head and who struggle to find a place to sleep that is warm, safe, and secure?   With the increased pressure on community services, and an increasingly difficult housing market, many individuals and families are doing it tough, sleeping in cars, in parks, and wherever they can find shelter.
In the latter part of 2021 Rotary Club Area Governor and Rotary Club of Maitland Sunrise club member Chris Walmsley was alerted by Rotary Club of Raymond Terrace to a project being run by Rotary Club of Terrigal to provide Shelterbags for the homeless.  This was further promoted by Rotary Club of Terrigal via an Australia wide Zoom meeting to explain about the Shelterbags.
Shelterbags can be likened to a combination of sleeping bag and swag – they are waterproof, lightweight, and designed for warmth and protection from the elements, with each bag costing in the order of $80.
The Shelterbags project is registered with Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS), enabling donations for the purchase of Shelterbags by individuals to be tax deductible.
On hearing about Shelterbags, Rotary Club of Maitland Sunrise members were quick to respond and 20 Shelterbags were purchased.  These were presented to two organisations in the Maitland area that provide support for the homeless – Maitland Neighbourhood Centre and Carries Place.  Their appreciation was overwhelming, recognising the difference these bags would make to people sleeping rough and facing a constant challenge not just to find a roof over their head, but to feel safe and warm as they sleep.
With the raised awareness of the level of need, the club is hoping to purchase further Shelterbags with proceeds from fundraising efforts during 2022.