“Homelessness affects all demographics. People who sleep rough, behind buildings or perhaps in a park need urgent support. Sometimes women and children may have fled a domestic violence home and can be found sleeping in their cars,” says Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO of Jewish House and Co-Founder of Mend.
“The Mend app creates action which means that these people will be helped quickly and with the utmost respect,”
Witnessing the role technology plays in everyday life, Rabbi Mendel Kastel realised there was an opportunity to use tech as a solution for the homelessness dilemma. With so many vacant properties and social housing available, the Rabbi understood there was an opportunity to harness the power of tech to connect those experiencing homelessness with the support they needed.
Mendel says the app gives the public the power to connect those who are homeless with support services by allowing them to simply log the need for assistance in the app. In his words, it lets people take action instead of just walking past someone in need.
“You can connect someone dealing with homelessness with a service that can help them. Your contribution tells the community you won’t just walk past and do nothing. We do not recommend approaching the person you want to help. We hope to use technology and community to reduce homelessness, and eventually end homelessness in NSW.
“Our app will then send a report to local services with a request to check on this individual, and ensure they are receiving the care they need, while also analysing in real-time a more accurate picture of what is happening for rough sleepers and couch surfers in NSW.”
Mendel has extended the support beyond those sleeping rough to those who may be down on their luck and couchsurfing with friends or relatives. Mend: Couch Surfers text line and website supports over 100 languages and is there to assist those needing to couch surf or those hosting a couch surfer.
Couch surfers are considered to be homeless and they too are at risk and need support from NSW services.
“You can register to be connected with a service provider who can help. This may be you or someone staying with you. We are here to help you connect with resources that empower you. Our aim is to help connect the couch surfer with services that will assist in finding longer-term accommodation and for us to mediate so the host can host for a bit longer while the couch surfer finds longer-term options for housing and support,” Mendel says.
We hope to maintain the relationship between the couch-surfer and host, who might be one of the last friends/supporters that could break down without this support.”
Ultimately Rabbi Mendel Kastell hopes the app and website will help bring people together and assist those most in need.
Find out more at mend.org.au.
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