Vinnies homelessness service receives renovation and new name

The former St Vincent de Paul NSW Coniston Night Shelter has been transformed into self-contained units with full wrap-around services including case management.

To celebrate the renovations, the Bishop of Wollongong Peter Ingham will officially bless and rename the service on 28 April, to ‘Charles Gordon O’Neill House’ after the founder of the Society and its Good Works in NSW.

Denis Walsh, State President, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, said the building had gone through several transformations over the years.

“When first built in the early 1960s it would sleep up to 22 men experiencing homelessness who could stay seven nights with access to hot showers, hot meals, and safe accommodation,” he said.

“In December last year the building was renovated to create six  independent, one-bedroom units which each has its own bathroom with laundry. These new apartments provide the men with greater independence, improved private space and dignity as they get back on their feet.

“Charles O’Neill was a young Scottish visionary who combined spirituality with his capacity to give to others. He established the first Conference of the Society in Sydney in 1881 and we have been following his inspired ways and the Good Works he set up since then.”

All residents are supported by caseworkers from St Vincent de Paul Society to link them into longer-term more sustained housing after their stay at Charles Gordon O’Neill House. People who are at risk of homelessness are supported according to their own needs. Case managers help residents create their own goals within a flexible, holistic and achievable framework.

The Vinnies Van and their team who provide social outreach support to people sleeping rough in North Wollongong, Warrawong and Nowra are also based at Charles Gordon O’Neill House.

Vinnies volunteers support people requiring emergency financial assistance at Charles Gordon O’Neill House, through the Care and Support Centre, which residents of Charles Gordon O’Neil House residents can also access.

“A team of Conference members volunteer their time at the centre to assist people in need by providing a listening ear to help solve a problem, or support from trained volunteers to overcome challenging times with finances, housing, welfare or other personal issues,” said Mr Walsh.