Sydney’s most vulnerable communities gathered for the annual Eat.Shop.Chop event at TOGA Group’s Addison Project in Kensington.
Almost 40,000 people in New South Wales experience homelessness on any given night, with 35 per cent of homeless people aged between 12 and 24 years old.
In response to this crisis, TOGA Group is turning its vacant properties into pop-up accommodation and hosting social enterprise services.
During Eat.Shop.Chop 137 haircuts were provided by Sustainable Salons, more than 800 grocery items and portions of lunch were handed out courtesy of OzHarvest, 1,500-plus items of new clothing were donated from Thread Together and shower services run by OrangeSky Laundry.
The event also gave guests access to essential toiletries from Little Care Packs, books from the Sydney Footpath Library and coffee from Vittoria, while they enjoyed a smoking ceremony and performance by the Sydney Street Choir.
The event was attended by Gareth Ward, NSW minister for families, communities and disability services, Mayor of Randwick City Council, Danny Said, the Property Council’s NSW executive director Jane Fitzgerald, and Allan Vidor, managing director of TOGA Group.
Over the past three years, The Addison Project has accommodated over 90 people in student accommodation and 500 people in emergency accommodation.
“The Addison Project has been running since 2017. We saw an opportunity to provide an innovative solution to Australia’s homelessness crisis by purposing an inactive development site for safe accommodation for youth and women in need,” Vidor explains.
“The Eat.Shop.Chop event allows us to open the doors twice a year to increase awareness of the project and offer support services to the wider community in need,” Vidor adds.
“We believe the property sector has enormous potential to help tackle homelessness through unlocking planning reform and tapping into underutilised spaces around the country.”
According to Jane Fitzgerald, the Addison Project showcases the property industry’s potential support some of the most disadvantaged members of our communities by unlocking what she calls “meanwhile use” spaces.
“While TOGA is getting its building project on track, the team is e using their asset to get the lives of others on track,” Fitzgerald adds.
“With each new Eat.Shop.Chop event that we bring to life, we’re starting to see the cumulative, positive impact,” adds event organiser Paul Frasca, co-founder and managing director of Sustainable Salons.
“You can see that the guests – many of them regulars now – are experiencing that true feeling of belonging in this space, which is just lighting up their confidence. And this motivates our entire network of organisations, staff and volunteers even more towards building balanced, supportive and robust communities for the future.”