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HELPING HAND: Veronica Bokodi receives a hair cut from Pandora’s Hair Witchery hairdresser Danielle Gillies. Picture: Jonathan CarrollON one hand, having more than 1000 people walk through the doors at Hunter Homeless Connect Day was“heart-warming” to see.
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On the other, it was“distressing” that so many had turned up, organisers say.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” co-ordinator Michelle Faithfull said.

“It’s heart-warming that so many are reaching out for help, but it’s distressing that so many people need help.”

Hunter Homeless Connect Day lent a helping hand to the region’s homeless, vulnerableand poor on Tuesday by linking them togovernment and non-government services.

By bringing the services under the one roof, it is hoped the easy access encourages a greater sense of community and leads to better social outcomes.

For the first time, the event was held at Broadmeadow Basketball Stadium.

The event, which is in its ninth year,had outgrown its previous location at Broadmeadow PCYC.

The theme of this year’s event was “Fresh Eyes”, which Ms Faithfull said was aimed at shaping the community’s attitudes towards homelessness.

Danielle Gillies and Veronica Bokodi at Hunter Homeless Connect Day on Tuesday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

“Homelessness is an issue that is getting worse,” she said.

“So the ‘Fresh Eyes’is about getting the community looking at the issue and seeing how they could help, as opposed to ignoring it.”

According to the n Bureau of Statistics, there are about 1500 people in the Hunter Region experiencing homelessness.

Organisers say about 900 people attended last year’s Hunter Homeless Connect Day.

A survey conducted by TAFE students also showed a 25 per cent jump in the number of women attending the event over the past two years.

Among the services available werefree health checks, eye tests, immunisations, podiatry services, diabetes screening and risk assessments for Alzheimer’s disease. Bedding, clothing and toiletry packs were also donated by Hunter residents.

Ms Faithfull said the support shown by the Hunter community had been invaluable.

Veronica Bokodi was all smiles when she was getting her hair cut by hairdresserDanielle Gillies.

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