Lights of Christmas focuses on support for the homeless

December 8, 2021 | General

Sydney’s favourite free Christmas event will turn its fundraising attention this year to providing critical support to ending homelessness.

Now in its 12th year, Lights of Christmas unites families, locals and tourists with a display of digital storytelling on St Mary’s Cathedral.

The event will be launched in the cathedral forecourt on Thursday 9 December and will continue until Christmas Day, with performances commencing at 7:30pm and the lights display at 8:30pm.

This year’s major sponsor, Paynter Dixon says it is looking forward to providing ongoing support to this year’s charity partner, the End Street Sleeping Collaboration.

The End Street Sleeping Collaboration (ESSC) was first conceived four years ago when Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP bought together Catholic social and health services organisations, including St Vincent De Paul, St Vincent’s Health, Catholic Healthcare, the Australian Catholic University and the Mercy Foundation to form a taskforce to come up with a plan to end homelessness in Sydney.

Lights of Christmas major sponsor, the design and construction company Paynter Dixon, provided free support to help refurbish an old office in Woolloomooloo last year to the ESSC, transforming the office into a new training and administrative hub.

Paynter Dixon spokesman, Mr Ashley Penny, said his organisation has been happy to do all it can to support the End Street Sleeping Collaboration.

“End Street Sleeping are doing exceptional work to address homelessness. No-one should be sleeping on the street and we support their work whole-heartedly”, he said.

“As part of a team effort comprising third-party service providers, our role was mainly about coordinating services as part of that refurbishment, cleaning the premises, moving and putting in new office furniture so that End Street Sleeping could have a new office at Woolloomooloo”.

End Street Sleeping Collaboration’s Co-Chair, the Catholic Care CEO Mark Phillips said his organisation is grateful for the volunteer support provided by Paynter Dixon staff on the project.

He said Paynter Dixon and its charity partner, the PAYCE Foundation were the inaugural philanthropic supporter of End Street Sleeping and their support has been vital.

Mr Phillips said he hopes the involvement of the End Street Sleeping Collaboration as charity partner will help raise greater awareness about homelessness and help dispel some common myths about it.

“People call out alcoholism, addictions, mental health as the cause of street sleeping and the answer is that’s not necessarily the case”, he said.

“Family breakdown is distressingly a cause of homelessness. There could have been a personal tragedy with something happening in your life and you fall onto a path to homelessness, which can be shorter than you think”.

“As a society, we owe it to people to help them, not just to get a house, but to actually get back into the community and feel loved. It’s ultimately about helping them feel part of society and the broader community. You could end up getting people off the streets and into a house and in a couple of years, you could have as many people on the streets again”, Mr Phillips added.

Find out more about Lights of Christmas here:

This article appears courtesy of The Catholic Weekly