Andrew Everingham: Sydney Homeless Connect
Chance meeting inspires Andrew to launch homeless mega event
Nine years ago, Andrew Everingham was on a work trip in San Francisco when he had a chance encounter with a young man named Matthew that changed his life forever.
Andrew had volunteered at an annual event that connects homeless people with people who can help them when he met Matthew.
He realised homelessness is something that happens to people and not who they are. Matthew could have been him, he says. He could have been looking in the mirror.
So, he decided to launch a similar program in Australia, and that’s where Sydney Homeless Connect came from. It’s a completely not-for-profit, volunteer-driven organisation with a simple but ambitious goal: to pull together an amazing event where people experiencing homelessness can access all manner of services in one location.
“One of the biggest challenges for people experiencing homelessness is knowing where to turn to for help,” Andrew says.
“What we try to do is bring them all the services on one day in one place and remove all the red tape and barriers.”
That ranges from a free consultation with a podiatrist to touching base with housing service providers.
Nine years later, more than 80 service and care providers gather in Sydney’s Town Hall for the event with the help of more than 300 volunteers.
Andrew is humbled and thrilled to be a Westfield Local Hero. But the real heroes, he says, are the volunteers and organisers, as well as the 2,500 guests who come along each year.
“I am merely the captain of an amazing crew of dedicated individuals who believe that sometimes it is good just to do something good.”
Sydney Homeless Connect will use its $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant to fund the next few Homeless Connect events.