Wimmera Uniting Care to host Homeless Persons' Week sleep-out on Wednesday

SLEEPING OUT: Wimmera Uniting Care Housing team member Sandra McDonald and program leader Sue Martin get ready to sleep out at May Park with Homelessness mascot Mali the elephant. Picture: BELINDA ELLIOTT

SLEEPING OUT: Wimmera Uniting Care Housing team member Sandra McDonald and program leader Sue Martin get ready to sleep out at May Park with Homelessness mascot Mali the elephant. Picture: BELINDA ELLIOTT

WIMMERA Uniting Care Housing program leader Sue Martin has urged people to support the region's Homeless Persons' Week initiatives.

Ms Martin said Wimmera Uniting Care helped 2418 people who were homeless or experiencing homelessness in the 2013-14 financial year.

That equates to more than 200 people a month.

Wimmera Uniting Care provided accommodation to 54 families and 47 individuals.

Of those families, there were 93 children, and 33 of them were aged one to four years old.

"The statistics are frightening and just reiterate that we need to raise awareness and funds to assist those in need," Ms Martin said.

Homeless Persons' Week starts on Monday.

Ms Martin said Wimmera events would carry the motto, 'Don't ignore the elephant in the room'.

She said the theme referred to homelessness and the signs of people needing help often being overlooked.

A sleep-out in May Park, starting 6pm on Wednesday, will be Wimmera Uniting Care and Horsham Salvation Army's main event for the week.

Money raised will help provide emergency housing for Wimmera people in need.

Ms Martin said Wimmera Uniting Care made 196 Housing Establishment Fund assists and spent more than $82,500 on accommodation and housing for homeless people in the 2013-14 financial year.

She encouraged sleep-out participants to bring anything but a bed to sleep on for the night.

"This could be a swag, car, tent - use your imagination," she said.

Participants will be provided a dinner of left overs donated by Horsham eateries.

Ms Martin said there would be live music.

St Brigid's College's Monday Munchies crew will cook breakfast on Thursday.

"We encourage participants to ask their friends and family to sponsor them," Ms Martin said.

Participants are eligible to win a range of prizes, including a 18.5 inch high definition LED LCD TV and DVD player donated by Dick Smith.

Other Homeless Persons' Week incentives include a lunch for young people at Horsham Salvation Army from noon on Monday, a soup kitchen at Horsham Salvation Army on Tuesday from noon to 1pm, and a tin rattle at Horsham Plaza and surrounds from 9am to 4pm on Friday.

Ms Martin said people could call Wimmera Uniting Care on 5362 4000 or visit www.wuc.org.au for more information or to get involved.

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