Cold comfort as winter chill hits homeless

Helping hand: Ocean Grove's Steve Neville always has a portable bed nearby for someone in need. 155664


SEVERAL hundred homeless people are freezing each night in Geelong, with temperatures approaching zero.
But a man from Ocean Grove is working to change that.
Steve Neville – who was homeless himself – launched the “Homeless Portable Bed Project” in May, to provide portable camping beds for rough sleepers.
“I thought there’s got to be something I can do which really makes a difference – that nobody else is doing,” he said.
“It’s about getting them off the ground and out of the cold and the wet. You’d be surprised how appreciative they are.”
Steve hopes providing bedding for rough sleepers can have positive “ripple” effects, like freeing up money for other homelessness services.
For example, he said, it could help reduce ambulance callouts for people getting sick due to the cold.
Steve was homeless from the age of 16, living in hostels and on the streets of Melbourne for several years.
He became addicted to heroin – although he’s been clean for the last 12 years.
“It was an absolute downward spiral,” he said.
It was two years in jail in 2002 – for non-violent thefts – which Steve said helped him beat his addiction and transform his life.
“A lot of people in the prison system sit around and mope about their life.”
But not Steve, who took courses in forklifting, food handling and safety, general maintenance and anything else to help him get back on his feet.
While locked up, he decided he had to do something to help people in a similar situation to himself.
“I could not go through all I’ve gone through, and learn what I’d learnt, with doing something like this,” he said.
“People are homeless or addicted to drugs for so many different reasons.”
The beds will help homeless people sleeping in the cold in Melbourne and Geelong.
Steve said Anaconda was chipping in for the beds, selling them at a reduced price of about $25.
The project has raised more than $2500 so far. That’s more than 100 beds for the homeless.
Steve said his project had drawn the attention of homelessness advocates in WA, SA and the UK.
To support Steve’s project, visit