AT LAST: In front of the Winsome Hotel yesterday were Lismore Soup Kitchen vice-president Margaret Lord, volunteer centre manager John Paterson, former Winsome owner Dallas Bayly, and Soup Kitchen volunteer Mieke Bell.
AT LAST: In front of the Winsome Hotel yesterday were Lismore Soup Kitchen vice-president Margaret Lord, volunteer centre manager John Paterson, former Winsome owner Dallas Bayly, and Soup Kitchen volunteer Mieke Bell. Jacklyn Wagner

Homeless will soon have Winsome look

LISMORE'S most destitute citizens could have a roof over their heads within weeks when the iconic Winsome Hotel becomes the city's crisis accommodation centre.

The Lismore Soup Kitchen has bought the North Lismore property for an undisclosed price from previous owner Dallas Bayly, but will lease the pub back to Mr Bayly during a transitional phase.

The Soup Kitchen hopes to have homeless people staying at the Winsome by early October, with the sale to be finalised in January.

Soup Kitchen president Ridley Bell said he was thrilled the search for a place to house Lismore's homeless was finally over.

“The fact we have a nice place where people off the street can come, I think it's fantastic,” Mr Bell said.

“I think it will help their self-esteem to have a place they can call home to be proud of.”

The Winsome will certainly be a step up from the streets and the tents, which often serve as crisis accommodation at the Soup Kitchen's current property at South Lismore.

The pub boasts 12 single rooms on the top floor and a further six double rooms with ensuites on the first floor, which could be used by families in need of crisis accommodation.

The bar area of the hotel and the commercial kitchen will become known as the Winsome Cafe and will replace the service currently offered by the Soup Kitchen at South Lismore.

Lismore City Council has allocated $100,000 in its current budget to support the service, while the Federal Government has committed a further $200,000.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said she would throw all her support behind the new centre.

“Interestingly, this idea of using the Winsome was considered some years ago when the hotel was last for sale, so it seems we have come full circle. I congratulate the Soup Kitchen for its efforts to secure these premises,” the mayor said.

Mr Bell said as an independent organisation the Soup Kitchen had been able to act more quickly than larger charities, such as St Vincent de Paul, to establish the crisis accommodation centre in Lismore.

He said the Winsome would be regarded as 'transitional' accommodation while more permanent lodgings were found for people in need.

“The Soup Kitchen is not a Johnny-come-lately; we have been housing the homeless since 1993 in a house at South Lismore.

“We have to accept that some people don't want to go into a shelter, but on the whole people are very excited and want to go there.”

John Paterson, who has been named volunteer centre manager, said the Winsome was an accessible venue, which could mean more members of the community would walk through the door to volunteer their time or services to assisting people in need.

Mr Paterson said details of the way the facility would operate would be discussed at an operational meeting on September 19.

He said the Soup Kitchen would be looking to on-sell the pub's licences and would continue to lease some rooms to people currently living there.

Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin has briefed Federal Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek on the project.

Ms Saffin is due to hold further discussions with Mr Bell, a St Vincent de Paul Society representative, and Lismore mayor Cr Jenny Dowell in Lismore on Monday.



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