Media releases

Community rallies behind people experiencing homelessness this Christmas

19 December 2019

An entire community has come together to make Christmas Day memorable for about 400 people experiencing homelessness and chronic disadvantage, who also access support at Sacred Heart Mission’s (SHM) Dining Hall.

The most vulnerable people in our neighbourhood will enjoy a special Christmas Day lunch with all the trimmings, thanks to months of preparation and countless gestures from hundreds of our supporters.

Acting CEO Leanne Lewis says students from St Michael’s Grammar School who created colourful placemats, to volunteers who have been gift-wrapping presents for a donation at the South Melbourne Market, everyone is pitching in to create a welcoming space at our Grey Street Dining Hall on December 25.

“Feeling welcome is never more important at SHM than on Christmas Day because the festive period might remind people of family and friends they are not connected with,” Leanne says.

“We’re empowering people this Christmas; people who go without every day by giving them ‘gifts of choice’ (giftcards) and giving people who access our services the freedom and control to buy what they want.”

One supporter Frank Petroulis personally bought 50 gift vouchers to make Christmas brighter for those in need.

Santa will visit with his helper to hand out these gift cards to our lunch guests, who will enjoy their meals sitting around decorated tables.

There have been other heartwarming gestures from people who have gone above and beyond, including from supporter Sean Breen and his friends who donated three hams, and more than 10,000 chocolate bars to be shared amongst our different client services.

Lastly, Peter Sheppard Footwear recently held a ‘giving weekend’, where $50 from every pair of shoes sold at the business went towards raising vital funds for the Women's House.

“We have a community with a lot of heart and recently, a person walked off the street and donated $1,500 to our reception but didn’t want any recognition,” Leanne says.

“Other special touches include messages of hope from our donors who wrote and sent messages on paper baubles, which’ll be hung in the Dining Hall for Christmas Day.”

A team of five staff and more than 40 volunteers are gearing up for their Christmas Day shift at SHM, spreading festive cheer to those experiencing isolation or extreme hardship.

The Dining Hall, known as one of our Engagement Hubs at SHM, is an important first point of contact for hundreds of people experiencing homelessness, to find food, shelter, care and support each year. A team of support workers are always present and ready to listen, talk and connect people with other Mission services.

More information on the Meals Program

SHM’s Christmas Appeal is underway, and the target is $218,000, which’ll go towards nutritious meals and essential supplies to help people break the cycle of homelessness.

Donations can be made here

City of Port Phillip supports the Meals Program to provide nutritious meals annually and this month contributed to ensure people’s Christmas Day meal includes all the trimmings.

City of Port Phillip logo

pdf Download the media release here (77 KB)


We are very busy on Christmas Day and cannot accommodate photo ops in our Dining Hall, but we would be delighted to discuss photo ops for other times, or could coordinate a phone interview.


Sacred Heart Mission is a highly regarded and well-established community service provider with leading edge expertise in engaging hard-to-reach communities and addressing the causes of long-term homelessness and disadvantage.


Sonja Schlusche
Acting Communication Manager
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Ph: (03) 9536 8440
Mob: 0474 470 337.

0136,596Meals served through our meals program over the last year
069,269Hours contributed by our volunteers over the last year
05,740Responses at our Women’s House over the last year
Sacred Heart Mission acknowledges the traditional Aboriginal owners of country throughout Victoria and pays respects to them, their culture and their elders past, present and emerging.

Sacred Heart Mission has always aimed to be a place that embraces a sexuality and gender diverse community; everyone is welcome at our table and we believe a diverse community is good for everyone.
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