Mend app to combat homelessness

August 2, 2020 Agencies
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The Mend app was launched 12 months ago by Bondi’s Jewish House CEO Rabbi Mendel Kastel and Sydney entrepreneur Alexandra Tselios to help identify people living on the street and to link them with appropriate support networks.

Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos and The Jewish House Bondi CEO Rabbi Mendel Kastel discuss the benefits of the Mend app with Waverley Council ranger Ricky Korvi. Photo: Waverley Council

Now Sydney’s Waverley Council rangers have begun using the innovative free app that allows staff and the public to log the location of and support for homeless residents in the community.

More than 1000 people have downloaded Mend since it was launched. Since COVID-19 restrictions on reasons for being able to travel outside the home in NSW have eased, there has been a 32% increase in reports on the app.

In the lead up to Homelessness Week, 4-8 August, Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos, encouraged Waverley residents to download Mend which has been rolled out across NSW.

Mayor Masselos said Waverley Council Rangers will use the app as part of their response to public place management. Council’s commitment to supporting people experiencing homelessness is set out in the Waverley Homeless Persons Protocol which guides Council officers in providing support to homeless people living in public places, increase their access to services and to minimise the negative impacts homelessness has on their lives.

“Waverley Council acknowledges that not all people in the community have access to safe and secure accommodation and our Rangers are our frontline when it comes to identifying people living on the street who may need support,” Mayor Masselos said.

“Our Council is committed to addressing homelessness and works with a number of specialist services and government agencies on homelessness initiatives. Mend is a simple way the community can help make a difference to those who need it most.

“I congratulate Bondi’s very own Jewish House for developing Mend which in its first year has helped people experiencing homelessness connect with the range of services they need.”

Rabbi Kastel, who was last year appointed Mental Health Commissioner by the Australian Government’s National Mental Health Commission, said the aim was to roll-out Mend nationally.

“Rather than creating another service to locate homeless people, the app is there to engage the public to make reports and these automatically get sent out to the appropriate services who will then go and help them,” Rabbi Kastel said.

“For the most part, we walk past someone who is homeless and go, “what can we do?”. With the app, you can quickly make a report and get that out to a service. They may not take them off the street but they will make sure that they are OK and that they have what they need.”

The most recent street count held in February 2020 found 18 homeless residents living in public spaces in the Waverley area.

Mend is available to download on the App Store and Google Play.

If you see someone in serious physical or mental distress or requiring urgent medical attention, please call Triple 000. Residents can also contact Waverley Council Customer Service on 9083 8000 to report someone in need.

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