You did it to me

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The words of the Lord found in Chapter 25 of St Matthew’s Gospel – “You did it to me” – are compelling. The parable of the judgement of God is described as the separation of sheep and goats on the basis of whether we have made an effort to help those in need.

This parable has inspired Christians over the centuries to devote themselves to the good of their neighbour. In the Church today there are countless numbers of organisations, agencies and individuals who have taken this word to heart and have devoted themselves to the care of those who are disadvantaged in one way or another.

The Catholic Church in Tasmania through the agency of CatholicCare and Centacare Evolve Housing are one witness to our response to this Gospel injunction. In particular, it is our response to the need of those experiencing housing stress in our community.

The commitment of the CatholicCare agencies is impressive. At present there are 231 dwellings under construction across Tasmania.  There are to be 386 dwellings completed by December 2020. These Catholic agencies are, in fact, producing 1.2 dwellings per working day to house Tasmanians who are homeless. We will soon be managing over 2000 homes across the State. This represents over 5000 people who we are supporting to have the essentials of a house in which to live.

Meeting housing needs began in the Bridgewater area but now the work is expanding across the state, providing housing in various rural settings like Scottsdale, St Helens and Sheffield. 

The housing program at CatholicCare is more than building houses with bricks and mortar. Through our approach we are providing tenants access to a range of supports so that they can flourish. This includes a proactive tenancy management model which involves linking tenants to a range of CatholicCare and broader supports such as CatholicCare Family and Relationship Counselling, Employment Coaching and mentoring and Financial Counselling.

On October 23 I had the joy of blessing the latest housing project, the Abbotsfield Road Development in Claremont. On this site CatholicCare Tasmania is building 55 social and affordable housing dwellings, creating new homes for around 120 people.

The homes being built centre around a Community Wellbeing Hub which will increase the opportunity for Hobart’s vulnerable people to be effectively supported. The Community Wellbeing Hub will be a communal space in the centre of the development. The aim of this hub is to involve the residents with various service providers.

It is planned to use the hub to provide community dining, a learning space, reflection area, play area and a wellbeing support room where outreach health and wellbeing services can visit residents.  The development will also include a community garden to provide the resident’s opportunities to connect with one another and build relationships, engage in shared projects and enjoy the beautiful surrounds.

The Wellbeing Hub will be set up to support tenants to overcome a range of specific and identified barriers to health and wellbeing. There is significant evidence about both the health needs of people who have been homeless as well as access to services being a barrier to wellbeing. The Community Wellbeing Hub will link residents to a range of place-based on site allied health and support services. 

We hear the words of the Lord in Matthew 25: “You did it to me.” As a Church we can be proud of the work of our social services agency, CatholicCare, as it seeks to make the call of the Gospel realised in the lives of disadvantaged and struggling Tasmanians.