Winter warming for those sleeping rough

Castlemaine Housing Service's Terry Atwood and Michael McMahon met with the man behind the project Jeremy Forbes (centre).

Castlemaine Housing Service's Terry Atwood and Michael McMahon met with the man behind the project Jeremy Forbes (centre).

A spike in homelessness has triggered a grassroots project to deliver more than 150 personal hygiene packs to men in need this winter.

Castlemaine tradie Jeremy Forbes began the initiative after seeing first-hand how homeless can affect a person and their circle through his work with suicide prevention charity Halt.

"I have seen some of the struggles that people face - particularly men in these situations," Mr Forbes said.

"In the beginning I wanted to create about 50 packs to assist people in the local area but now I have more than double that. People got very excited about the project - it really struck a chord with the community."

Sanitary products like razors, soap, toothbrush, shampoo and deodorant have made their way into the packs as well as items like beanies and chocolate.

"For some people who are sleeping rough this might be what they need to feel confident in applying for a job or visiting family members," Mr Forbes said.

So far, the packs have made their way to Bendigo, Castlemaine and Kyneton.

Castlemaine Housing Service was just one of the organisations on the receiving end of the packs and will now help distribute them to those most in need.

"We see around 180 people and families from the Castlemaine area every year," CHS's Michael McMahon said.

"There are always people who are sleeping rough or couch surfing to escape a situation - some that might not seek our help too.

"It's a little package: it doesn't give someone a house but it will certainly help to pick someone up who might be feeling low."

Kyneton R M Begg care manager Jane Angrove helped lead a collection with contributions from staff and residents, resulting in 30-40 extra packs donated last Thursday.

"It's good to know that all of this is going back out into the local community," Ms Angrove said.

"This is a wonderful initiative and it's good to see the way everyone has contributed."

Mr Forbes said the project has potential to grow.

"This can grow - definitely. I would love for other communities to start creating their own packs. Homelessness can effect so many in the community and this is something small but it can really help."

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