Hundreds of people in Tamworth battle homelessness cycle
When someone hears the word "homeless", the imagery of someone curling up on a park bench or the street is what often springs to mind.
But the reality of the homeless is not so visible to someone walking around the city.
In the last six months of 2019, 366 people in Tamworth were dealing with homelessness or were at severe risk of falling into the cycle.
Lynda Townsend, services manager for Tamworth Family Support Service, said the organisation helps hundreds of people a year.
"We know from an organisational perspective, that being homeless is actually so much more than being on the streets," she said.
"We have people living in cars, living in a tent or couch-surfing on a day-to-day basis.
"We have people who relocate out of town to stay with family which disrupts their social circle."
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Ms Townsend said a lot of the funding bodies understand the diversity and complexities of the issue but finds that governments often fail to recognise the intricacies of it.
She added that it is so much more than finding someone a home.
"The dynamics and the barriers that these people have to overcome often need a significant amount of time and considerable case planning and a multi-service system to be able to break that cycle," Ms Townsend said.
"Our numbers show women account for the most significant proportion of those who are homeless.
"Ending the cycle of homelessness is tough ... barriers include rental affordability, low Centrelink income, and depression and anxiety."
Ms Townsend said every person's experience of the situation is different, but regional areas have less access to services.
"In Tamworth, TFSS is the only one that is a special homelessness service," she said.
Ms Townsend said after Christmas, residents tend to forget about the services and charities that need support.
"The Tamworth community rallies around that time, but homelessness doesn't only happen at Christmas, it happens all year round," she said.
Tamworth Family Support Service always welcome donations from toiletries and non-perishable items right through to household items that are in working order.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said tackling the issues of homeless is a priority for him.
"Homeless continues to be something that needs to be addressed," he said.
"I am focused on the preventative responses to address the root causes of homeless and early intervention to reduce the longer-term impact.
"There is a coordinated group of support for families and individuals who are at risk of homelessness to remain safely in their existing housing or to secure stable housing."
Mr Anderson said the budget for 2019/2020 saw $1 billion was allocated to tackling the issue.
To contact TFSS: Phone 02 6763 2333 or Freecall 1800 073 388