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A roof and a bed help Rick find his feet

A man who took up the offer of a Gisborne facility established for the homeless during the Covid-19 lockdown says it has changed his life.

The facility was set up during the second week of Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown by Lizz Crawford and her father Tom Crawford of the Oasis Community Church.

They created it in response to concerns many Gisborne residents had about where the homeless would live.

Homeless man Rick, 55, says if it was not for the facility he might not be where he is today.

“I was sick but I didn't think it was anything bad until Lizz forced me to go to the hospital,” he said.

It turned out he had fluid on his heart and needed urgent medical attention.

Before lockdown he was in Auckland trying to figure out the next steps in his life, but when he heard New Zealand was to move into Alert Level 4 and lockdown, he drove back to Gisborne to be closer to home.

He had only his car and as many of his belongings as he could fit in it.

He started freedom camping along the beach but the police and Gisborne District Council told him to move on.

Rick had been told about the possibility of Churchill Park being set up by the Civil Defence Emergency Management group as a place to house the homeless.

Other homeless people and freedom campers went to the park as they thought it would be available.

After waiting for about a week, they were told the area would not be open.

He and others set up their own campsite next to the old prison.

While he was waiting, social advocate Tuta Ngarimu got in touch to let him know about the facility being set up that could house a maximum of 10 men.

Rick was a little apprehensive because he did not see himself in as much need as others. But he took up the offer.

When he arrived he was given his own bed and pack with blankets and other items to keep warm.

The residents get three meals a day and, as a bonus, have use of a television.

Rick cannot believe there are people like Lizz and Tom, who he says set up the facility out of the kindness of their own hearts.

He is thankful that there are people out there trying to help create a home for the homeless.

Rick's next step is to look for more permanent accommodation.

Leave a Reply to Lizz Crawford Cancel reply

  1. Lizz Crawford says:

    The true heroes are our shelter whanau who have chosen to stay. Every day I wonder to myself how we, as people who have so much, ever walked past them and continue to walk past them. How did they become so invisible to us? When we see ourselves as a connected part of our homeless whanau we can then understand that we did not put them there, but we are responsible for keeping them in that space. What I have learned over the past 4 months is that they are there to show us how we are failing. Our guys are simply the best. They have accepted us as we are and we have accepted them as they are. It took so little, something we take for granted every day – a meal, a warm bed, a roof over their head and aroha. We are whanau now, not a shelter.