Hamilton Homeless Trust needs new home

By Ged Cann

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Petrina Toimata at the Hamilton Homeless Trust serving area
Petrina Toimata at the Hamilton Homeless Trust serving area

The Hamilton Homeless Trust may soon find themselves without a home with their Hood Street premises set for demolition to make way for a car park, potentially leaving many without an evening meal.

The old David's Emporium building has housed the Trust for the past two and a half years, allowing them to serve 55 of the city's needy with an evening meal every night of the year.

Trust spokesperson Petrina Toimata said time was running out to find an alternative serving space, with their eviction about a month away.

"We are in the process of finding an alternative venue to serve our meals from, we're trying to get something out there. It's been busy," she said.

Petrina said the regular recipients of the meal service, sometimes as many as 97 in one sitting, have been notified that a change may be coming.

She said she was trying not to think about what it would mean if the Trust could not find a new location.

"We're trying to stay positive," she said.

"We've met with Hamilton City Council and the Community Development team, and they've been good but unfortunately they don't have any buildings available seven days a week. That's our demise and our point of difference - that we serve out meals seven days a week, 365 days a year, but there are no buildings available every day."

Petrina said of all the churches and community groups around the city the Trust had approached none could commit to service at 7pm every night.

It is not only the homeless of the city who arrive seeking a meal. Petrina said around two-thirds of recipients were families, students and the elderly who have a roof over their heads but still struggle to put food on the table.

"In the beginning we were serving those without home but about six months after we started we realised the need was extending beyond those on the street."

Patrina said this reflected life was becoming harder in the city.

"It doesn't matter who you are, everyone is welcome and nobody is turned away."

The Trust first moved to the Hood Street building with it was leased by the Authentic Church, however for the past two months the organisation had footed the bill for rent with the help of Hamilton Asphalts.

Any facility the Trust moves into needs to be available on a daily basis, large enough to house the diners and have washing up facilities, but most of the preparation is done by an army of volunteers at home.

"We bring pots and dishes of food, the internal infrastructure of our meal-serves are run like clockwork, it's a well oiled machine we just need somewhere to serve.

"For us it's so much more than providing a meal, it's a safe space and there's a whole lot of loving that goes on down here," she said.

Anyone who might be able to help can contact Petrina at hamiltonhomelesstrust@gmail.com

- Hamilton News

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