Safety House may close the doors
By DAWN COHEN
FOR four years any child in danger could knock on Linda Hoult's front door.
Now the program that lets Ms Hoult, and others like her, provide a safe haven for children is under threat of closure for want of volunteers.
The Alstonville resident said she would like to see the Safety House program not just protected, but expanded: Becoming a beacon of safety for adults and children alike.
The retired teacher and her husband are one of 180 residents in Ballina Shire who participate in the Safety House program.
Participants are vetted for criminal records, and children are never invited into the home to ensure their safety.
Bruce Hoult is president of Ballina Safety House Committee.
"We need more area co-ordinators," he said.
Ms Hoult said children in Ballina Shire often contacted the adult residents of safety houses rather than use the houses themselves.
But that did not mean the program was not important.
"It is a reassur- ance for children and their parents," Ms Hoult said.
"I would like to see it expanded to anybody who needs help.
"With Ballina's aging population, an elderly person might need help, or simply a glass of water or the loan of a brolly.
"Or a middle-aged person who has broken down could knock on the door of a safety house knowing it has been checked out.
"I certainly would feel safer myself doing that."
To volunteer, call Bruce Hoult on 6628 8337.