A Blacktown ca rpark will be the venue of a unique race to raise awareness of homelessness in western Sydney.
So far 11 teams from community and government agencies have entered the Blacktown Couch Surfing Championships, to be held on the top level of the Colo Lane car park this Friday, October 20.
The fun event has been organised by Blacktown Council to highlight a serious issue: the number of people experiencing homelessness within the city.
“While we most commonly think people experiencing homelessness sleep rough on the streets, just over half are couch surfers – people staying with friends, extended family, or in overcrowded accommodation,” mayor Stephen Bali said.
“People who turn to couch surfing are often fleeing violence or trapped in poverty.”
Cr Bali said up to 900 people in the Blacktown area may be affected by the ‘hidden’ form of homelessness every night.
“The Blacktown couch surfing race aims to not only draw attention to this issue, but to highlight services in the area,” he said.
“There are many government and non-government agencies in our community actively working to help local homeless people – there is help out there.”
The Blacktown Couch Surfing Championships coincides with Anti-Poverty Week from October 15-21.
Cr Bali said Blacktown Council has several initiatives to address both the causes and effects of homelessness and poverty, including the Homelessness Hub.
The biannual event, held at Sargents Centre on First Avenue, is a chance for people to collect free food and clothing while receiving help with housing, health and finances.
The next Homelessness Hub is on Friday, October 27, from 10am to 1pm.
“I encourage anyone who is couch surfing, sleeping rough or having issues with accommodation to come along and get connected to the support they need,” Cr Bali said.