Parking Lot Gets Turned Into a Safe Haven For The Homeless At Night

Unfortunately, homeless people are all around us. Homelessness remains one of the main problems in our society, and many simply turn a blind eye to it.

For a moment, every one of us should think about the way these people feel, unprotected on the streets, unable to pay for their food or a visit to the doctor’s, fearing for their life, always uncertain what tomorrow will bring.

Poor, scared, humiliated, cold, ill, and hungry. The horrible living conditions of these people made an Australian charity, Beddown, decide to help them.

The charity thought of making shelters in places that are vacant at night – such as parking lots.

The founder of the charity, Norman McGillivray, got the idea while walking through an empty parking lot at night.

According to the website of the charity, Norman investigated the homeless issue in Australia and found that it was getting worse and not getting any better.

His determination to help the homeless comes from memories of his own father’s homelessness in the UK, where McGillivray grew up.

“The motivation behind that stems back to my childhood in the 1970s when I was a very, very young fella. My father was a carpenter. When he was in his early 30s he suffered a stroke that impeded his speech.

Effectively that was the end of the business when I was about two years old. My own personal opinion was, that put a lot of strain on the relationship, my parents separated and divorced and he found himself on the streets of London homeless.”

He added:

“My memory of him is that he’d be around for a week or two and mum would get him tidied up, a haircut, new clothes and then he’d go back to the streets of London until he had a heart attack at 42 and died.”

Therefore, he wants to help the homeless as he sees them as someone else’s mum, dad, daughter, son, brother or sister.

Due to his experience, he specifically wanted to target those who sleep rough around Australia.

He was shocked to discover that there are over 8,000 vulnerable people who sleep rough every night across Australia, on the street, on benches, and under bridges.

When he went to a local shopping center, he noticed that the car park was nearly empty. He then saw the potential in utilizing the space, especially at night when these places are empty and vacant.

Last November, Beddown asked one of the largest car park operators, Secure Parking, and they agreed to launch a two-week trial in Brisbane.

A group of kind volunteers created a safe environment for the homeless to finally enjoy a night’s rest. The charity decided to find common places, used in th4 daytime only, and convert them into shelters at night.

Many of the homeless people suffer from sleep deprivation that in turn can cause health issues like depression, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, memory loss. Moreover, they can become prone to alcohol or drug use, and live constantly at risk of being attacked.

The charity, therefore, provided numerous services, such as doctors, nurses, dentists, hairdressers. The homeless also received new clothes and a place to clean themselves.

On their Instagram page, the creators of the charity wrote:

 “We will look to get as close as we can to a proper comfortable bed to provide the homeless with a great night’s sleep is our ultimate goal. Sleep deprivation is a massive issue for our homeless, so being in a place that offers shelter and is safe, secure and comfortable we believe will have a big impact on those who use Beddown.”

These are the initial statistics after the first pilots and trials:

  • 41 guests used Beddown throughout the pilot.
  • 100% of them felt safe during the stay
  • 77% of them were men and 23% were women
  • The youngest person who tried to access Beddown was 15 years old
  • They rated the sleep 4.5 out of 5 and the beds 4.5 out of 5 on average.
  • 9 people were turned away in one night due to overcapacity

The Instagram post continued:

“It was great to start bringing the Beddown vision to life last night with a group of our awesome volunteers for the Dry Run. Thank you to our awesome group of volunteers who came in late on a Saturday night to help us trial and set-up some beds.

Although as expected we had a few challenges to overcome, it was awesome to start bringing Beddown to life. Beddown will provide an immediate response for those who sleep rough to access safe, secure shelter and access to a comfy bed and a great night’s sleep.

We will work with our other collaborative partners to provide long term solutions to transition our guests into accommodation, education and employment opportunities and ultimately put ourselves out of business (this is the vision).” 

Many of the homeless wrote about their experience:

“I don’t have to watch my back here.”

“After spending the week here, having a good sleep at night and a routine, it reminded me of life and I booked myself into Rehab for 6 months.”

“Being able to sleep all night and away from drugs, I’m clearer in the day and have not used drugs for 8 days.”

“It’s the first time I have had a dream in years.”