At our most recent club meeting in July 2019, members of the Zonta Club of Sydney were lucky enough to hear from Nicole Yade, the General Manager of Lou’s Place in Potts Point. Nicole outlined the multitude of services provided at the women’s day refuge, which is celebrating twenty years of service as a non-government organisation. Lou’s is funded totally by donations, and operates with the assistance of multiple volunteers and a full-time staff of six.
Lou’s provides a safe haven for homeless women (20-30% of its clients are ‘sleeping rough’), women in public housing (20% of clients) and the other 50-60% are in temporary accommodation such as refuges, or couch surfing, sleeping in their car or on trains. Lou’s offers a hot breakfast and lunch, and the use of shower and a washing machine and dryer – fundamental needs that are so difficult for homeless clients to access elsewhere. They provide fresh undies, toiletries and clothing as sometimes when women are escaping domestic violence they leave home without being able to pack much. Most days see about 25 women pass through the doors, but recently they saw 57 women in one day. They also provide programs and classes for women to build confidence and develop new skills ( sewing, art, writing, makeup etc).
Lou’s provides assistance with legal issues, counselling and crisis intervention, domestic violence, addiction, mental issues, and housing. Alarmingly, the fastest growing group of homeless women are those aged over fifty-five years. Nicole spoke of the main reasons that people end up without a home, and of some new programs they are involved in ‘Always Mum’ and ‘Women, Choice and Changes’.
Always Mum supports women who have children in Out of Home Care and includes parenting education sessions, legal education and advice and assistance with dealing with Family and Community Services amongst other things.
More information, including ways to donate or volunteer can be found at https://www.lousplace.com.au/