Melbourne store opens its doors to the homeless

homeless graffiti art
A new shop, opening in Melbourne next Monday, will enable the city’s homeless people to access free, high-quality clothing.

HoMie is a pop-up clothes store that will occupy Melbourne Central for the next three months.

Each time a transaction is made, HoMie will donate an item of clothing of the same value to a person experiencing homelessness.

On ‘VIP days’, homeless people who are referred by agencies can come into the store and choose five items for free. They can also receive a free haircut, free coffee and participate in job skills workshops.

HoMie is run entirely by volunteers and will sell clothes donated by prominent retailers including Snowgum, Cotton On and Trend Clothing.

The initiative was conceived by Nick Pearce and Marcus Crook, creators of the ‘Homeless of Melbourne’ Facebook page.

‘Homeless of Melbourne’ takes inspiration from the popular ‘Humans of New York’ and captures the stories of people experiencing homelessness through interviews and photographs. The project aims to break the stigma behind homelessness by giving a space for people living on the streets to share their stories.

People who work in Melbourne’s CBD will be familiar with many of the faces that appear on the Facebook page. ‘Homeless of Melbourne’ encourages the public to learn about their individual stories and challenges the assumptions people may have about homeless people.

Mr Pearce told The Age that HoMie can be a new way of shopping that benefits both consumers and the disadvantaged.

“Why not buy the same stuff you can get elsewhere, but you’re also supporting people less fortunate than yourself by doing so? It’s a bit of common sense for us,” he said.

Mr Pearce hopes HoMie can become a sustainable social enterprise that eventually employs disadvantaged people as staff.

While HoMie does not accept second-hand clothing, shoppers can support the project by purchasing items at the store. The public can also donate money to Homelessness of Melbourne, a registered charity, by emailing info@homelb.org.

HoMie joins the growing list of community initiatives that offer practical support for the homeless throughout Victoria.

UnitingCare Ballarat’s BreezeWay Meals Program provides hot and nutritional lunches every day for people who are homeless or living in insecure accommodation. The café style environment offers a sense of warmth and shelter during the cold winter months.

Since opening in 1998, the program has served over 250,000 meals to the local community. A group of approximately 50 dedicated volunteers representing a diverse range of church, business and community groups contribute their time to the program.

Volunteers who wish to help prepare food for the BreezeWay Meals program can contact Anne Magrath on 5332 1286 or emailing amagrath@ucare.org.au

BreezeWay Meals receives no government funding and needs to raise more than $140,000 to operate every year. You can support the program by making a secure online donation here.

Image by bixentro via Flickr.

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