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Blankets help warm homeless this winter

ROTARY Tasmania is helping ease the hardship of Tasmanians facing homelessness and insecure housing this winter by knitting blankets.

Last winter, Rotary District Governor Heather Chong issued a challenge to all Rotary Clubs across the state to think about how they could support people experiencing homelessness in the community.

“Knitting squares is something that most people know how to do, and it can be done anywhere,” she said.

“Many members took to the challenge with great enthusiasm, and I am absolutely thrilled to say that we have donated more than 200 blankets.

“We had relatives and friends of club members getting involved in the challenge, with some knitted squares coming from as far as New South Wales.

“Whilst Rotary has driven it and a lot has been done by Rotarians, lots of other people have seen it as a nice easy way to help out.”

As well as knitting blankets Rotary Tasmania has also made 100 overnight packs, each including a sleeping bag, sleeping mat, warm clothes and toiletries.

“The current housing and rental crisis is pushing people out of their homes and into their cars and other forms of insecure housing,” Ms Chong said.

“Knitting blankets and making up overnight packs was something practical that we could do.

“Realistically we are not going to fix homelessness, but we knew we could all do something to make the lives of those experiencing homelessness just that little bit better.”

All donated items have been given to the Salvation Army, who in turn will work with Colony 47, City Mission, St Vincent de Paul and others to distribute them where they are most needed.

Salvation Army Tasmania public relations manager Amelia Natoli said the Rotary donation was timely.

“We actually had a call a few weeks ago from one of our Street2Home workers saying they are seeing a huge demand for sleeping bags and mats,” she said.

“The fact that we can share this donation with our collaborative agencies and try and make sure the hundreds of Tasmanians spending nights on our cold streets are actually supported is awesome.”