Businesses are opening their doors

Many in the community want to help people experiencing homelessness, but don’t know how to reach out. People experiencing homelessness can feel embarrassed and ashamed to ask for food or basic services.

Our Connecting the Hunter program provides an opportunity for small businesses, corporate organisations and individuals in the community to be active participants in responding to homelessness in the Newcastle and Hunter region.

Our program is an extension of the successful Hunter Homeless Connect Day event and provides a dignified and practical way for businesses in the community to offer goods and services to people experiencing homelessness, all year round. It also provides opportunities for corporate organisations to support these businesses, and to help us raise awareness on the real issues around homelessness, reduce the stigma and break down the barriers.

How Does It Work?

  • Businesses can sign up to the program to offer practical and free goods/services to people experiencing homelessness.
  • Corporate organisations and individuals can donate funds to support small businesses in their provision of goods and services via a voucher referral system.
  • People experiencing homelessness will receive these vouchers via referral from specialist homelessness services to be used at these nominated businesses to help with their immediate needs.

Why Do We Need This?

We can all be just a few pays away from homelessness. Increasingly homelessness is becoming the reality for people who may have been managing well, but are thrown off course by a relationship breakup, job loss, or death of a loved one.

The latest 2016 census, the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) counted 1,750 people experiencing homelessness in the Hunter region. This was an increase of about 12 per cent on the 2011 figure.

The latest statistics reveal that only 7% of people experiencing homelessness have mental health and substance abuse issues and only 6% are sleeping rough. Many (31%) are escaping domestic violence, housing stress (28%), unemployment and financial (22%) and transitioning from custody (12%). A survey conducted by Hunter TAFE students at the 2016 Hunter Homeless Connect Day event revealed that for the first time, women outnumbered men among those seeking assistance.

This project looks at the big picture and connects the dots.

How Can You Help?


Is your business able to provide any free and practical goods to people experiencing homelessness? Do you have a space where people who are experiencing homelessness can charge a phone, heat a meal, use a first aid kit or have a shower? If so, and you’d like to partner with us, we can set you up as a provider in our online voucher system.

Corporate Organisations

Host a donation tap point in your organisation for a month and ‘pay it forward’ to small businesses who are out there providing goods and services to people experiencing homelessness. We can deliver presentations to your staff on the real issues associated with people experiencing homelessness. We aim to raise awareness, reduce the stigma, break down the barriers and encourage staff to be part of the solution and offer real and tangible ways to contribute and invoke community consciousness.


Just want to donate? Head to the donate page here and pay it forward to someone in need.

Connecting the Hunter Stories

Click here to read about how the program is helping vulnerable people in the community.

Member Directory

Click here to see our directory of participating businesses, services and organisations.

Read our Latest Newsletter Here!

If you would like to be involved in our Connecting the Hunter program or would like more information, email us at

This initiative was originally funded by the Community Sector Banking’s 2018 Social Investments Grant Program and more recently, the Sisters of Mercy, Newcastle.