There was a scene out the front of Wayside yesterday that broke my heart. One of our regular visitors came in for a hot shower and a change of clothes. After he was clean and dressed, he was standing out the front of the building, chatting with anyone who walked past. One of our frontline workers gently asked him to leave, kindly explaining that due to the lockdown we can’t have people congregating out the front of the building. His response crushed me. “But where do I go?” As we retreat to the comfort of our homes to lockdown with loved ones, it’s so easy to forget that there are people in our city who literally have nowhere to go and no one to turn to.
The speed at which our entire team shifted gears last week to adapt our response so it was in line with COVID-19 restrictions was something to behold. Without missing a beat, our teams made the right changes which enabled us to keep our doors open, as well as reach rough sleepers on our streets. Our centres act as a lighthouse for aching hearts and through the uncertainty of the current time we see faces thirsty for a moment of human connection and assurance. No matter how brief these moments are, they truly are sacred, and provide a lifeline that can avert a shipwreck of the soul.
Every morning there are people lining up for showers, takeaway meals, clothing, blankets, and medical care. We are working closely with other agencies to get people off the streets and into temporary accommodation. Our outreach teams are delivering emergency care on our streets and to people’s homes for those who are in lockdown but still in need of support. And bundled into every care pack, every takeaway meal, and every interaction, is love.
Just before we open our doors, the morning conversations on our front decking are often the most candid. This morning a new face approached, “Are you open today?” she asked in quiet desperation, “I’m sleeping in my car, because it’s safest for me, I haven’t showered in six nights and I am just so tired and cold, and I’ve been told to come here.” My heart wasn’t expecting to be jolted so early in the morning, and already there were others milling for a morning chat, but it was with a heart full of gratitude for the people that were just behind the door ready to open up, that I was able to smile at her reassuringly, “You’re in the right place.”
Our incredible team at Wayside aren’t the only ones that have filled my heart with warmth this week. I want to take the opportunity to send my deepest and widest thanks to you, our dear inner circle, for supporting our winter appeal. We couldn’t do what we do without your support and your belief in our mission to create community with no ‘us and them’.
On behalf of that woman and the countless thousands of others like her, I thank you, our Inner Circle,
Pastor & CEO