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Caravan for emergency Orange accommodation reopens after legal, safety checks

June 30, 2022

Stock image.

By Peter Holmes

A caravan used by the Uniting Church on Anson Street as emergency accommodation for people in crisis has been approved for use over the harshest part of winter.

The caravan, which was granted special dispensation by Orange City Council to operate during the winter of 2021, is now able to accept clients (details below).

Bev Rankin from the church told The Orange News Examiner that various safety and legal requirements had to be met before the van could be put to use.

“We had to make sure we had a carbon monoxide monitor, a fire alarm, a fire extinguisher, and this and that,” she said.

Rankin said the van was modest but could house a single person, a couple or a single person with up to two children.

“It’s only temporary accommodation, it’s not a long-term fix,” Rankin said.

“But it means they can get into [accommodation] and stretch out and have a good night’s sleep for a week or two. It’s there to support people so they can get into a better space.”

She said that anecdotally she had heard of a lot of people doing it rough this winter - sleeping in a car, a tent or on a friend or family member’s couch - as affordable rentals become thin on the ground.

The church is still serving up free hot meals on Saturday nights between 5 and 6.

The Uniting Church. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

The program started earlier in the Covid pandemic.

In recent times the number of people seeking the meal has been around 130 to 150 weekly.

It spiked at about 170, although the official maximum each week is 150. Nobody has been turned away, Rankin said.

All age demographics are represented, from younger people to adults collecting meals for themselves and their children to the elderly. One thing unites them, Rankin said - they are trying to get by on low incomes in a time of high inflation and skyrocketing house prices.

The type of meal served each week depends on the volunteer cooks, and what produce the church has managed to secure.

It might be rissoles, gravy, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots; lasagne; sausages and chips; chicken casserole with rice; or spaghetti bolognese.

“It’s a hot, home-style cooked meal,” Rankin says.

“And there’s always a bit of a treat like a slice or a muffin or a biscuit that comes with it. Depending on availability sometimes we have some bread that’s been donated so they might get a loaf of bread as well.”

Spaghetti bolognese. Stock image.

She said most people take the meals home, or away from the site. “Especially at this time of year because it’s freezing cold. Occasionally people might eat it on the bench out the front.”

If you are in need of emergency temporary accommodation call the Uniting Church on 6362 5788 to arrange an interview.

If you can donate time on a Saturday to help prepare and serve the meals, phone the church on the same number to be added to a roster.



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