Homeless Memorial Service

On Wednesday 21 June, an annual ceremony was held to commemorate the lives of homeless men and women who died in the previous twelve months.

This tradition was started by the End Street Sleeping Collaboration in conjunction with the PAYCE Foundation and the Justice and Peace Office with the support of the late Catholic Cemeteries CEO Peter O’Meara as an opportunity for the community to remember and honour lives lost and to grieve for all individuals who have died on the streets or in shelters over the past year. The terrible truth is that many homeless people who pass away receive no other memorial.

Dominic Sullivan from PAYCE Foundation said “This is a unique opportunity to remember and celebrate the lives of those that died without a home, and often without a commemoration. Our aim is to remember them. The aim of the End Street Sleeping Collaboration is to bring attention to the plight experienced by so many people sleeping rough, and to ensure no-one should be living or dying on our streets. As a community we need to understand that homelessness is solvable.” Fr Peter Smith from the Justice and Peace Office reminded those in attendance that “we need to hold these people in our hearts just as our loving God has called each of us by name and holds the departed homeless in the palm of His hand”.

This year, organisers additionally called on Sydney Local and State Governments to implement a uniform nation-wide Code Red / Code Blue emergency response protocol for rough sleepers in extreme weather events.

If in place, such a protocol would reduce risks of extreme heat or cold on those sleeping rough by connecting them with support services and providing additional services including extended operating hours or additional shelter options.