Safe Shelter ACT

In 2020, Safe Shelter will open on Sunday 26 April and close on Saturday 31 October.

This website details what, when, and where Safe Shelter is. Our Facebook page is updated with further information throughout the year.

What is Safe Shelter?

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

Safe Shelter operates under a nightly drop-in 'first come, first served' basis. The Shelter opens 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 times, locations, and what happens during the evening can be found further down this page.

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

When and where is Safe Shelter?

Safe Shelter opens during Canberra's colder months. In 2020, Safe Shelter will open on Sunday 26 April and close on Saturday 31 October.

Safe Shelter opens at different locations on different nights of the week, as listed below. The Shelter opens for guests nightly at 7:00pm. Guests are welcomed into the Shelter up until 10:00pm or until the Shelter is at capacity, whichever comes first. All Shelters are within walking distance of support services in the inner north, and sit along Transport Canberra's Route 31.

Sunday & Monday nights

All Saints Anglican Church Ainslie - 9 Cowper Street Ainslie

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday nights

St Columba's Uniting Church Braddon - 10 Fawkner Street Braddon

Friday & Saturday nights

Salvation Army Canberra City Corps - Corner Fawkner & Doonkuna Street Braddon

What happens at Safe Shelter? (click to expand)

Between 7:00pm and 10:00pm, guests are welcomed into the Shelter by volunteers. After agreeing to the conditions for staying and settling into the Shelter, guests may choose to 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 is 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 are kept locked throughout the evening and night, with guests welcomed at the door by volunteers. Guests can leave the property at any time during the night, but will not be welcomed back into the hall after 10:00pm or if the Shelter is at capacity. Guests must leave the property by 7:00am.

Safe Shelter is not able to provide meals, however guests are encouraged to use some of the nearby free meals services. On weekdays, the Early Morning Centre provides a free breakfast and drop-in professional support service/community hub. On weekends and public holidays, Safe Shelter's guests are provided with a voucher for breakfast from a nearly business, generously funded by the Mercy Association for the Underprivileged and McDonald's. The nearby Red Cross Canberra Roadhouse provides free evening meals on Sunday - Thursday (check linked website for daily service times), while Stasia's Soup Kitchen operates in Garema Place 12pm-5pm on Fridays. The VC-ACT has also collated a free meals guide and information on food pantries.

Safe Shelter is not a professional support service and cannot help with provide 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 aims 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 are directed onto specialist services or businesses for breakfast, showers, laundry, and ongoing practical and interpersonal support.

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

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