Safe Shelter ACT

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, Safe Shelter operations have been suspended indefinitely. Further information can be found on our Facebook page. Anyone seeking emergency accommodation or support is encouraged to contact OneLink or other support services.

Safe Shelter operations suspended due to COVID-19

Safe Shelter media statement - 23 March 2020.pdf

What was Safe Shelter?

Safe Shelter provideed free, basic, warm, emergency overnight shelter for adult men who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. No referral, assessment, booking, or payment was required.

Safe Shelter operated under a nightly drop-in 'first come, first served' basis. The Shelter opened at different locations on a rotating basis, with volunteers offering guests warm drinks, social connection, toilet facilities, and somewhere safe to sleep or rest out of the cold. More information on what happened during the evening can be found further down this page.

All guests needed to be was respectful and contribute to an atmosphere of safety. To maintain the privacy of guests, visitors and other interested parties were not welcomed into the Shelters.

As a combined churches and community project, Safe Shelter ACT received no government funding and was entirely run and supported by volunteers.

When and where was Safe Shelter?

Safe Shelter opened during Canberra's colder months. We opened at different locations on different nights of the week.

The Shelter opened for guests nightly at 7:00pm. Guests were welcomed into the Shelter up until 10:00pm or until the Shelter was at capacity, whichever comefirst. All Shelters were within walking distance of support services in the inner north, and sat along the then-Route 31.

What happened at Safe Shelter? (click to expand)

Between 7:00pm and 10:00pm, guests were welcomed into the Shelter by volunteers. After agreeing to the conditions for staying and settling into the Shelter, guests chose to eithert go straight to sleep, spend some time alone, watch TV, play chess or cards, have a warm drink, or enjoy the company of other guests and volunteers. 10:00pm was lights off and quiet time, with guests and volunteers spending the rest of the night sleeping or resting quietly in the church hall.

For safety reasons, the doors were kept locked throughout the evening and night, with guests welcomed at the door by volunteers. Guests could leave the property at any time during the night, but were not be welcomed back into the hall after 10:00pm or if the Shelter is at capacity. Guests had to leave the property by 7:00am.

Safe Shelter was not able to provide meals, however guests were encouraged to use some of the nearby free meals services. The VC-ACT has collated a free meals guide and information on food pantries.

Safe Shelter was not a professional support service and could not help with providing ongoing assistance and specialised support, such as referrals, interpersonal support, or finding accommodation. Please visit the Support Services page for more information on agencies that can.

The core idea behind Safe Shelter (click to expand)

Safe Shelter aimed to reduce the immediate concern of being homeless or at risk of homelessness - where will I sleep tonight? - with the hope that somewhere warmer and safer than sleeping rough or sleeping somewhere unsafe, along with social connection, will provide the basis for a slightly better tomorrow. In the morning, guests were directed onto specialist services or businesses for breakfast, showers, laundry, and ongoing practical and interpersonal support.

Safe Shelter ACT was a combined churches and community project between St. Columba's Uniting Church Braddon, The Rotary Club of Canberra, The Salvation Army Camberra City Corps, and All Saints Anglican Church Ainslie, with support provided by hundreds of volunteers and numerous services throughout the ACT. The service provided by Safe Shelter ACT was non-denominational. Safe Shelter ACT received no government funding and was entirely run and supported by volunteers.

Our thanks go to the people and services who have made Safe Shelter possible.