Dave Tilson, manager Pete's Place, and Robin Osborne St Vincent de Paul, take the machines for a spin.
Dave Tilson, manager Pete's Place, and Robin Osborne St Vincent de Paul, take the machines for a spin. Trevor Veale

Laundry day brings dignity

HAVING a shower and changing into clean, dry clothes is something many of us take for granted For the homeless, these things are often a dreamt of luxury.

After five months of construction and a cost of approximately $180,000, St Vincent de Paul Society's Pete's Place has opened its doors to the region's homeless.

Named after the late Peter Grealey, a local benefactor of St Vincent de Paul Society, the centre is a purpose-built extension to the Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre in Earl St and provides free shower, bathroom and laundry facilities Monday to Friday, 8.30am-1.30pm.

Word's quickly spreading around town and the the washing machines and showers are already getting a work out.

"The people we've had in so far all say what a brilliant service it is,” said Dave Tilson manager at Pete's Place.

"Just the other day we had a family in with three little ones, they were so appreciative of the facilities.”

The facilities include showers with toiletries, large washing machines and dryers that can handle blankets and a breakfast nook with donated food.

Pete's Place will be managed by the Society, relying strongly on volunteers. New Horizons organisation will provide staff on a one day per week basis.

The facility was developed through a Community Capital Infrastructure Grant of $111,000 from Coffs Harbour City Council, with financial inputs of $35,000 each from St Vincent de Paul Society and the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour South. Many businesses in the building industry provided valuable support with skills and materials.

Pete's Place manager Dave Tilson has lengthy experience in housing and homelessness services, and will be assisted by a team of rostered volunteers.

"When we put out a call for volunteers late last year we had a terrific response,” Mr Tilson said.

"It's heartening to know so many locals are willing to donate their time to helping people who are down on their luck. There is no other service like this in the area, and hardly any others on the whole North Coast. The partners in this project have every reason to feel proud of what we have achieved here,” Mr Tilson said.

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