The Wayside Chapel has provided unconditional love, care and support for people on and around the streets of Kings Cross since 1964.
Today, under the banner of love over hate, The Wayside Chapel creates a community where there is no ‘us and them’ by breaking down the barriers of judgement and providing a safe place where people from all walks of life are welcome just to ‘be’.
The Wayside Chapel draws people out of social isolation and invites them into the healing place of community. People marginalised by homelessness, mental health issues and substance abuse can turn to Wayside for compassion, tolerance and support.
Our community services centres in both Kings Cross and Bondi, youth space and outreach service, mental health program, twilight team, community cafe and our Aboriginal project are all designed to ensure the most disadvantaged members of our community have access to essential health, welfare, social and recreational services.
Each year, thousands of people visit Wayside for assistance in gaining equitable access to essential health, welfare and related services. In an average week at Wayside we provide, amongst other services, 517 community meals, 319 changes of clothing, 741 instances of health-related support including mental health, and 36 social and recreational activities for the whole community to participate in. People purchase on average 1,802 low cost items in our café, there are 252 instances of support for youth at risk and 176 members of the community visit Wayside to learn more about our work.
Overall, 195,000 instances of support were provided last financial year to people seeking assistance or just stopping by for a chat and a place where they can find company and acceptance.
Creating Community at The Wayside Chapel
Overview of Programs and Services
Under the banner of love over hate, The Wayside Chapel strives to create a community where there is no ‘us and them’ by breaking down the barriers of judgment and providing a safe place where people from all walks of life are welcome just to ‘be’. Our programs and services are designed to ensure the most marginalised members of our community have access to essential health, welfare, social and recreational services.
Community Services Centre
The Community Services Centre (CSC) is the first point of contact for many people visiting The Wayside Chapel. The door is open 7 days a week for all of our visitors regardless of their circumstances. People can access showers and clothing along with referrals for short and long-term crisis accommodation and housing; information and advocacy services; referral services to health and welfare agencies; meeting spaces for self-help and community groups; and drop in activities. Above all, the CSC provides a judgment-free space for those just looking for a chat and the company of people who care.
The Wayside Café provides low-cost meals and beverages in a warm, relaxed and friendly environment. The Café is the busiest and most lively part of Wayside, with people from all walks of life coming together for a meal, a coffee or simply to spend time in a safe place. Unlike a soup kitchen or food van, people can choose what they want to eat from a freshly-prepared, nutritionally-balanced menu made on-site by staff and volunteers. By paying a small amount (between 20 cents and $4) there is a dignity to the exchange and people feel welcome to stay as long as they like. The café is also a conduit for people to access support, external health clinics and participate in activities as it is co-located with the Community Services Centre.
Supporting young people at risk is one of the most important facets of Wayside’s work. Kings Cross continues to be a dangerous place for young people, where the opportunity for criminal activity and the ready access to alcohol and drugs can put them at great risk. Wayside Youth provides a safe and supportive environment for all young people with a particular focus on those living rough in the Kings Cross area. The space provides a drop-in centre with access to showers, laundry facilities and emergency clothing, a breakfast program and a wide variety of fun and educational activities. Care coordination and an outreach StreetReach service ensure young people on the fringes of society are not left behind.
The Aboriginal Project brings the Indigenous community at Wayside together in such a way that is culturally sensitive, respectful and appropriate. Our Aboriginal Project Officers engage and support Aboriginal visitors and tailor the project to the needs of the Aboriginal community, which makes up around 20% of all visitors to Wayside. The Aboriginal Project offers a structured activities program including a weekly community lunch, a living skills program and art activities. A series of support programs assist Aboriginal visitors through various pathways including education, employment and referral out of disadvantaged areas. The only dedicated Aboriginal space in the area, the project enables the Indigenous community to feel a sense of belonging in the Kings Cross area.
Day to Day Living
The Day to Day Living (D2DL) Program provides people living with long-term mental health issues with a safe and supportive environment. The program aims to support people experiencing social isolation, and help them increase community participation, develop confidence and new skills, accomplish personal goals, and improve their quality of life. Through a range of educational, social and recreational group-based activities, participants are encouraged to seek out their vocation, discern what ‘recovery’ means for them and focus on making their future dreams a reality by creating opportunities for themselves.
The Twilight Team offers fun and interesting activities from 5pm to 8pm, a time that can be quite lonely for people sleeping rough or who have a limited network of friends and family. The Twilight Program runs a range of activities, including movie nights, bingo and games nights, photography, music, drama, arts and crafts, and pamper sessions. In addition to activities, the Twilight Team provides a safe place for people to spend the evening and access essential services such as showers, emergency clothing and access to telephone facilities. The Wayside Cafe also forms part of the Twilight Program and features low-cost, freshly-cooked meals.
When the people we support get back on their feet, the first thing they often want to do is find a vocation that brings meaning to their life. The Pathways Project offers support to people across all program areas at Wayside, whether they’re interested in working, studying, or just learning a new skill. Our Pathways Project Officer works with each visitor individually, assessing with them their vocational goals and developing a unique pathway plan to help building skills toward those goals. It enables our visitors to prioritise their hopes and dreams for the future, and find vocational activities to improve their quality of life. We also work with a range of external partners like Centrelink and employment agencies to bring a more complete set of pathways services to Wayside.
Packed to the rafters with clothes, jewellery and kitsch delights, Wayside Op Shops are a favourite of fashionistas looking for quirky one-offs and affordable designs. Dinnigan, Gucci and Ksubi – donated by some of Wayside’s very well dressed supporters – nestle amongst more humble brand names and handmade items. Our Op Shops generate significant profit for Wayside, which is directed straight back into our program areas to help the most vulnerable members of our community. Patrons of Wayside’s Op Shops also know they are ‘shopping for good’ by buying secondhand, supporting the local community and minimising their environmental footprint at the same time.
High up on the roof of The Wayside Chapel is a 200 square metre garden filled with over 50 different varieties of organic fruit, herbs and vegetables. The garden – boasting sweeping views across the parklands and the CBD – is a community space where disadvantaged people and local residents can work together, sharing skills and supporting each other to nurture a vast array of plants. Opened in July 2011 as part of Wayside’s $8.2million redevelopment, the garden features the latest in sustainable design and architecture. It has two rainwater tanks, solar panels, two worm farms, a compost system and three bee-hives. The organic produce grown on the rooftop garden is used in Wayside’s low cost Café, as well as featuring in local restaurants like Billy Kwong in Potts Point. The wider purpose of the garden is to create community, teach living skills, practice sustainability, engage with our neighbours and beautify Kings Cross.
The Chapel at Wayside is an example of community at its finest, with people from all walks of life coming together for Sunday services. Led by Rev Graham Long in Kings Cross and Rev Graham Anson in Bondi, Wayside church services are something a little bit different, bringing the words of the lord into a modern context and a community atmosphere. The sermons touch on everything from grief, addiction and despair to love, hope and renewal. The congregation enjoys each other’s company every Sunday and are reminded that all of religion is satisfied when love is lived in community.