There is over twenty (20) years of documented history of women’s homelessness on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, especially for women without custodial children.
In the year leading up to the Manly Women’s Shelter opening, Manly Community Centre and St Vincent de Paul in Brookvale recorded more than 300 women who turned up on their doorstep in search of crisis accommodation. These statistics and years of experience fuelled the need for the Manly Women’s Shelter.
To address this decades long need, in 2007 the Northern Beaches Women’s Housing Co-op was formed, headed by Jacquiline Smith, Manager of the Manly Community Centre. Two years later the Co-op brought together Margaret Gallagher from Pregnancy Help, the Rotary Club of Manly Sunrise, Manly Community Centre and the Hunt Family Foundation (represented by Mrs Ellie Hunt) to discuss the possibility of opening a shelter in the area.
The Manly Women’s Shelter was finally realised thanks to further collaborative efforts and much needed start-up funding provided from the Hunt Family Foundation.
Members of Rotary Club of Manly Sunrise painted and renovated both houses as part of a charitable donation to the MWS. They also installed fencing and other security measures. Soroptomist International (Manly) provided furniture and established a library for the women. Other community groups, including The Sisterhood, along with generous individuals donated household goods, clothing and other essential items.
Initially, the Manly Community Centre entered into an agreement with the Manly Women’s Shelter to provide expert advice on how to set up and run the Shelter, and to offer services to the women. Since then we have aligned with Women’s Community Shelter to continue our growth.
The journey so far
- November 2010: Manly Women’s Shelter opens its doors to homeless women across Sydney’s Northern Beaches. During that first year of operation from the two houses, we provided over 70 homeless women with accommodation, providing emergency short-term support and helping them to find secure housing on a long-term basis.
- In 2014: a third house, adjacent to the two existing properties was secured as a transition house for those women moving from crisis accomodation into premises that will assist them to become ready for a further move into general accommodation in the community.
- Early 2016: Over 250 women have been helped by Manly Women’s Shelter. And the numbers are growing.
In October 2013, Mrs Ellie Hunt passed away from after a short battle with cancer. Ellie had spent the previous five years absorbed in the established and then operation of the Manly Women’s Shelter. Ellie made it her daily business to work hands-on with the Shelter staff and the Manly Community Centre in giving every opportunity possible to women in need of crisis accommodation. Ellie’s drive and support is sorely missed, and the Board and Committee work hard to maintain and continue her legacy.
The future is looking bright
The Manly Women’s Shelter can accommodate up to ten (10) women at any one time, plus an additional three (3) women in a transition back to community accommodation program.
Our staff consists of a full-time trained senior welfare worker supported by a roster of part-time trained welfare workers – who provide on-site support 24/7. As a not-for-profit community organisation, we rely heavily on the time and expertise of volunteers.