Dear Inner Circle,

Wayside is the place of the 13th attempt. Last week we had someone walk through our doors for the first time, but it was their 13th try. They’d been shuffling up and down nervously past our doors a dozen times before steeling themselves to walk inside. There are a lot of people who are walking past our doors at the moment, attempting to pluck up the courage to come inside and whisper the words that their heart is screaming. They are words our culture has gone out of its way to train all of us from saying: “I’m struggling”. We will always be there for the 13th or the 31st attempt because Wayside is the place where love and grace hit the road. We have always been there for the 13th attempt at rehab, or the 13th attempt to leave a bad relationship because we are the place that says to everyone, “We are here, we love you, we see you, we stand with you.”

Today is R U OK Day, a day where we encourage those struggling to reach out and get help. It is also a day that reminds us to take a moment to apply care and empathy to ourselves, and prioritise our own mental health. I hope in some way you too are able to do that for yourself and to reach out if you ever need a helping hand.

Many of our people are feeling first-hand the long-term impacts of isolation and so I’m filled with deep gratitude that our van and street outreach teams are getting out to where people are. This week we had a beautiful woman who our team have been visiting proudly proclaim “Thank you for your assistance, I am so thrilled to inform you that I no longer need it”. She then proceeded to let the team know of others in her housing tower who have fallen on hard times, and needed their help. What a beautiful picture of inter-connected leadership.

Our Sunday morning services are being filmed at the chapel in Bondi and there is now a regular midday gathering afterwards on the grass at Bondi Beach to share a fish and chips lunch – you are more than welcome to join us. Last week a few more people showed up than expected and I began to worry that there wouldn’t be enough to go around. Sensing my rising nerves one of our guys leant as close as is safe and wheezily whispered, “Just bless the scallops and fish, and there’ll be plenty to go around!” It was enough to remind me that sharing a laugh is just as important as sharing a meal and to not surrender my presence in the moment to any worries that were beyond my control.

The history of Wayside Chapel is one that has always risen to the challenge of a crisis, be it homelessness, addiction, AIDs, or the isolation of COVID-19, we will always be there to walk together in order to one day build back better.

Thanks for being a part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

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