The Wayside Chapel has provided unconditional love, care and support for people on and around the streets of Kings Cross since 1964.
Each year, thousands of people visit Wayside for assistance in gaining equitable access to essential health, welfare and related services. In the past year alone, Wayside provided, amongst other services, 9,416 community meals, 7,338 1:1 support sessions, 6,528 changes of clothing, 3,456 instances of activity-based support to people with a long-term mental health issue, 2,131 applications of first aid and health support, 1,871 referrals to services and agencies and 884 social and recreational activities. People purchased 100,636 low cost items in the Cafe and over 4,774 members of the community visited Wayside to learn about our work.
Overall, 82,000 instances of support were provided to people seeking assistance or just stopping by for a chat and a place where they can find company and acceptance.
What does an average week at Wayside look like?
Overview of Programs and Services
Under the banner of love over hate, The Wayside Chapel strives to create a community where there is no ‘us and them’ by breaking down the barriers of judgment and providing a safe place where people from all walks of life are welcome just to ‘be’. Our programs and services are designed to ensure the most marginalised members of our community have access to essential health, welfare, social and recreational services.
Community Service Centre
Open seven days a week, the Community Service Centre is the first point of contact for people visiting The Wayside Chapel. The centre is open to all the community and provides the little things people often take for granted: a willing listener, a shower with a fresh towel, a clean pair of underwear or assistance finding a bed for the night. The centre also helps those in need to transition to a better life through care coordination, advocacy, mental health risk assessments, housing applications and referrals to drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Acting as a hub for other services, the centre offers outreach clinics for legal aid, Centrelink, mental health and housing support.
Supporting young people at risk is one of the most important facets of Wayside’s work. From Monday to Sunday, Wayside offers the only youth-specific drop-in space for young people in Kings Cross, and provides laundry and shower facilities, breakfast and dinner programs, activities, outings, care co-ordination and a safe place to spend the day. Regular outreach street walks aim to connect with young people on the street to ensure early intervention and immediate crisis referrals.
Day to Day Living
The Day to Day Living program provides people living with a long-term mental health issue with a safe and supportive environment. Through a range of educational, social and recreational group-based activities, participants are encouraged to seek out their vocation and discern what ‘recovery’ means for them. Activities in Day to Day Living reflect the interests of participants and include music, visual arts, sport and nutrition and living skills such as cooking, computing and writing.
The Aboriginal Project brings the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community together in such a way that is culturally sensitive, respectful and appropriate. Activities in the drop in space include a weekly community lunch and programs focusing on living skills, art, health and wellbeing. The project supports Aboriginal visitors, who make up around 20% of all visitors, through the pathways of education, employment and referral out of disadvantaged areas through care coordination, advocacy and outreach. A dedicated space, which includes showers and a laundry, allows the Aboriginal community at Wayside to feel a sense of belonging in the Kings Cross area.
The Wayside Café serves healthy, low-cost meals and beverages in a warm, relaxed and friendly environment. People from all walks of life come together at the busy and lively cafe for a meal, a coffee or some reflection. While the café's meals are not free, they are affordable. We believe that charging a small fee for food gives dignity to the exchange. The café acts as a training hub where visitors and volunteers can train in cooking, food preparation and coffee-making. The café is open 9am to 7.30pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday.
If you’ve an eye for bargains, you can’t go past Wayside’s Op Shop. Packed to the rafters with clothes, jewellery and a few kitsch delights, the Op Shop is a fashionista favourite. Prada, Gucci and Ksubi – donated by some of Wayside’s well-dressed supporters - nestle amongst more humble brand names and handmade items. Shoppers have the added benefit of knowing that every dollar spent goes straight back into our projects and services. We accept donations of clothing, jewellery and homewares only. The Op Shop is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm Saturday.
The Wayside Chapel is not just a crisis centre and our vision has always included every part of the community. Our Community Development program is dedicated to creating opportunities to bring all members of the community together for activities and events that will help reduce isolation. The events are as diverse as the people who come through our doors. Whether it’s theatre productions, community lunches, play groups, inter-agency gatherings, movie nights, art shows or twelve step programs, the events provide a unique opportunity to bring people from outside of the welfare space into Wayside for a more inclusive community.
Employment Pathways Project
When the people we support want to get back on their feet one of the first things they want to do is work. The Employment Pathways Project operates across all program areas to help marginalised people to move towards employment-related goals through training and support. Our role is to match people who are ready to move into the mainstream workforce with organisations that want to make a difference in the community. Intensive support is provided for both to ensure the best possible result.
We invite people into the world of responsibility and challenge visitors to increase their skills, knowledge and confidence to move into the broader community. Opportunities are created so enterprising people who access our programs can take a step towards participation in their chosen vocation. Social enterprises include Wayside catering, where visitors are supported to cater food and drinks for external events, a coffee cart program, where people become qualified and skilled baristas, and the communal garden, where visitors grow produce for use in the Wayside Café.
There are few more radical examples of community than are encountered in our church gatherings on Sunday morning. Many of the barriers that divide people are dissolved and it’s not uncommon for a sex worker or someone struggling with addiction to be sitting next to an ex attorney general of Australia. We remind each other that all of religion is satisfied when love is lived in community. Sunday service is held at The Wayside Chapel each week at 10am.