The busy and vibrant Islington cafe ‘Slingtown Espresso’ (formerly Suspension Espresso) joined the Connecting the Hunter program early on. Cafe owner Chris Johnston had already been offering suspended coffees to people in need in the local community for over five years.
Slingtown also has a ‘pay it forward’ model, where community members can choose to pay for food and drinks for people in need. Chris says “Slingotwn has a strong sense of community. Whatever you are going through, you can come here and just sit”.
“If you have no shoes, you are just as welcome as the guy with the Maserati. They often sit down next to each other”. “We have an open door policy and we thrive by not discriminating”.
The first $500 to be paid forward at Estabar was used to buy cafe meal vouchers for women accessing Newcastle Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (NWDVCAS), with Estabar also generously donating $500 worth of vouchers.
Nicola Hirschhorn, from NWDVCAS shared,
“The women we work with have experienced great trauma. The vouchers from Estabar will be such a wonderful treat for them. Many of the women who come to our service have had any sense of self-worth taken from them. Now they can know that somebody cares and they are actually worthy of nice things. The generosity of the community is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much Estabar and Hunter Homeless Connect!”.
In late 2022, we met with Sandy Chong and her team at Suki Hairdressing to purchase some haircut vouchers with funds collected by our donation tap point devices and to provide them to Jenny’s Place Domestic Violence & Homelessness Support Resource Centre.
Our Connecting the Hunter Coordinator Nissa introduced Wendy Waldron, Newcastle Domestic Violence Resource Centre Coordinator at this initial meeting and the concept was received with open arms by Sandy. So much so, that Suki have donated 20 haircuts, with blow dry and scalp massage and HHC will provide funding for hair colour treatments. In addition to this, AVEDA generously donated gift packs of luxurious hair products for the women receiving haircuts.
The collaboration has also resulted in Wendy providing ‘Accidental Counsellor’ training for all of the staff at Suki in preparation for the rollout of the haircut program.
Warlga Ngurra Women & Children’s Refuge
Warlga Ngurra Women and Children’s Refuge provide Connecting the Hunter vouchers to women, children and families who access the refuge.
Warlga Ngurra not only assist Aboriginal people, but also assist people from all cultural backgrounds.
“Connecting the Hunter is a fantastic initiative that has assisted Warlga Ngurra in providing vouchers to women and children escaping domestic and family violence and particularly those who have no income due to their immigration status” says Rae Hopkins, Manager at Warlga Ngurra.
“These vouchers have not only assisted families to enjoy a meal and beverage at local cafes, but have also provided an opportunity for these families to get out in the community and forget one’s struggles and hardships.”
Q & Co
Thanks so much to the team (Jess & Jess!) at Q & Co. for hosting one of our donation tap points! The funds we receive from the community through these devices are used to purchase food and haircut vouchers for people experiencing homelessness. It’s what we call our ‘Pay it Forward’ program, otherwise known as Connecting the Hunter.
“We think that the community of Warners Bay likes to be involved in helping others in need, in any way, small or big. We are very happy to be involved with this ‘Pay It Forward’ program.” Jess (Q & Co Cafe).
Grill’d at the Junction
Connecting the Hunter would like to welcome, and thank Grill’d at the Junction for their generous contribution of free meal vouchers for local people experiencing, or at risk of homelessness.
Vouchers for meals will be provided via referral from specialist homelessness services. Owner Shanna says that “Being a part of Connecting the Hunter is just one way we can support our local community.”
Shanna sees paying it forward to be particularly important at this time of year as we lead up to Christmas. “Christmas isn’t a celebration for everyone, it’s an important time of year for us to contribute in any way we can and give back.” Thanks Shanna and Josh at Grill’d in The Junction!
‘Hope Cottage’ at All Saints Anglican Church in Nelson Bay joined the Connecting the Hunter program as a service provider as the program was rolled out in the Port Stephens, Nelson Bay area. Volunteer Dorothy Thom comments, “We are very excited to be partnering with you to help our community in crisis”. Local Pastor Rev. Kesh Rico Govan is concerned about the rising levels of poverty and homelessness in the Nelson Bay area. He says, “People call me ‘the pastor of paradise’ yet they don’t see, or want to acknowledge the poverty here in Nelson Bay“.
Hope Cottage is volunteer run and is open every Tuesday from 10.00am to 12.00pm at the Anglican Church, 29 Tomaree St, Nelson Bay. They gladly accept community donations and would love to access a van to be able to assist with transport. As they say “Hope begins with a donation“. “We want to provide dignified help with no strings attached” says Catherine Govan, a volunteer at Hope Cottage.
ITEC Group Australia
ITEC Group Australia have joined Connecting the Hunter!
Our Lake Macquarie office is situated in a vibrant thoroughfare and we often engage with people sleeping rough. We see people getting set up for the night after closing the office and even after reaching out, having a chat and offering support, it feels awful to leave knowing that this is where they will spend the night. As a company delivering community services across the region and wanting to do something more, Connecting the Hunter was a perfect fit for us.
Everyone deserves to be supported without judgement, feel safe, accepted and valued as community members regardless of their economic situation or status.
The prevention and reduction of homelessness requires a “whole of” response – including government, community and business, ITEC Group Australia is pleased to support this initiative.
Get it Off Barber Shop
Trudi, from Get it Off barber shop in Raymond Terrace has joined the growing trend of barbers who are helping out local people who are experiencing, or are at risk of homelessness.
Get it Off is now providing free haircuts through the Connecting the Hunter program. Vouchers for haircuts are provided via referral from specialist homelessness services.
Teal Cafe East Maitland
Teale Cafe in East Maitland has joined the growing trend of community minded businesses signing up to the Connecting the Hunter program. The cafe now provides meals and drinks via a referral voucher system from Carrie’s Place Domestic Violence and Homelessness Service.
“It’s about caring for the community” says cafe owner Anne Teale “We are happy to support Carrie’s Place and provide dignified help to local people in need.”
Connecting the Hunter provides a dignified and practical way for businesses in the community to offer goods and services to people experiencing homelessness, all year round.
The Neighbourhood Barber
My favourite thing about barbering and hairdressing is making people feel like they are on top of the world at no cost, says Amy Cook from the Neighbourhood Barber in Islington.
The Neighbourhood Barber has recently joined the Connecting the Hunter program, an initiative of Hunter Homeless Connect Inc. They will be providing free haircuts to local people who are experiencing homelessness via referral from specialist homelessness services.
Amy comments, I have always wanted to help people in need to feel better about themselves and how they look, it’s the most rewarding part of the job.
A good haircut can change someone’s life, how they see themselves, how others treat them and also improve someone’s job prospects.
Stanley Phung from Local Crop has offered to donate locally grown fresh produce to the Connecting the Hunter program, an initiative from Hunter Homeless Connect. With a seventeen year background working in the community services, Stanley has gotten to know and support many people who are doing it tough.
He says he is “happy to provide dignified help” to local people in need.
Local Crop supplies locally grown produce including fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, bread and milk. They also supply handmade items like soap and candles. Their motto says it all, “Local Crop, Local Community”.
As a member of Connecting the Hunter, Local Crop will now donate food vouchers to local people in need who are accessing specialist homeless services (SHS) through the voucher system.
Michele & Co!
I am more than happy to help says Michele, from Michele & Co Hairdressing in Raymond Terrace. Michele has recently joined the Connecting the Hunter program.
Michele & Co are providing free haircuts for local people who are experiencing, or are at risk of homelessness via referral from specialist homelessness services.
Thanks Michele & Co!
Onyx Espresso Bar
Leya Aboltins, cafe owner at Onyx Espresso Bar in Mayfield was involved with Hunter Homeless Connect via TAFE NSW back in 2007. As a relatively new local business owner she jumped on board our Connecting the Hunter program not long after it was launched.
Leya is excited to be able to do her bit by donating food and coffee to people who are doing it tough and are experiencing homelessness in the local community.
“I am happy to help, my heart is in it”. She comments, “I want people to know that this is a safe place to have a coffee, have a chat, charge a phone and use our free WiFi”.
Onyx Expresso Bar were already offering a suspended coffee and meal system, whereby community members are able to ‘pay it forward’ to donate food and coffee to local people who are doing it tough.
As a member of Connecting the Hunter, Onyx Expresso Bar now also provide meals and coffee to local people in need via referrals from specialist homeless services (SHS).