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From the Inside Out

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Dear Inner Circle,

Wayside Chapel, in many ways, was born from the inside out. In our earliest days our founders would use the chapel as a base to visit those squatting in the local neighbourhood, many of whom were living emaciated and isolated in squalor. The sights and smells of modern-day slums were not alien to our community in those days. Going to the forgotten has always been part of our DNA. To this day I think that there is perhaps no greater feeling of loss than that of being forgotten or overlooked. The isolated heart can seek comfort in dangerous pursuits and places. Having a place where hearts can find a home is so vital for Wayside, yet reaching outwards beyond our buildings to people on the streets and to those who are isolated behind closed doors, is equally powerful. “The warmth of having someone reach out to me is what got me to where I am…” is the story we are honoured to share with you here from James, one of our visitors. After years of living on the on the streets and living in unstable accommodation, he has now secured a permanent home. His words speak for themselves.

Looking beyond, there are some exciting things happening. We are embarking on pilot project with the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District and City of Sydney to meet people who are isolated in boarding houses and provide access to vaccinations. Sydney has the highest density of boarding houses in the whole of Australia. People staying in these houses are often forgotten, falling through the cracks, and living in tenuous conditions. Connection is vital, but we also want better health outcomes, so together we are taking the jab to them. Onsite at Wayside we’ve also had the Aspen Medical team offering vaccinations to visitors on a weekly basis. Twelve jabs were given in one day last week, which means twelve lives potentially saved. Something to be celebrated.

It’s wonderful to have our centres opening up more and more for conversations and for people simply to enjoy catching up over a deliciously prepared meal from our cafe. The chapel space is open again too, providing a brief moment of respite and pause for weary souls. “Wayside is back, baby!” I heard one of our visitors proclaim this week. Whilst we have never stopped, I know what that visitor means. There is a great mood around the place again. I sat in the chapel with a brave woman who spoke of the courage to make significant changes in her life. As she poured out her heart she wept, and just as I passed her some tissues our much- loved local “watch dog”, Birdie, burst through the chapel doors, ambled up between us and broke wind that was so bad it burnt through our masks. We both burst out laughing while trying to hold our breath. All I can say is that these “Only at Wayside” moments are back too, and I’m so grateful.

Thanks for being part of our community, our Inner Circle.

Jon

Jon Owen

Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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