Homeless BBQ to attract hundreds
GRANT Richards has felt the pain of being homeless, and now wants to help people doing it rough on Ipswich streets.
After living on the streets of Brisbane for 18 months, Mr Richards has finally rebuilt his life and is now running Mates Helping Mates, an organisation that supports homeless people through holding inclusive events.
Mates Helping Mates has organised a massive barbecue bash for the city's homeless at Browns Park this Sunday, to be run by dozens of volunteers.
A similar barbecue held in West End, Brisbane, attracted more than 500 people, and Mr Richards expects to match this number at the Ipswich event.
"We're offering a big feed of seafood, meat and cold drinks, and we'll have tables and tables of clothes, kids' toys, toiletries and hygiene items," Mr Richards said.
"We'll also have a doctor on site for basic first aid.
"These are all things that homeless people really need, but the idea of the barbecue is also that it's a social event, so for every 'working' volunteer we have an equal number of volunteers there to just talk."
Mr Richards lived on the streets up until about three months ago, after suffering a bad accident near his Wellington Point home.
"I used to be very successful - I was the head of a kitchen at a nice restaurant and I had a lovely wife and daughter, then I lost it all after an accident that left me with broken bones and pain problems," Mr Richards said.
"I completely gave up on myself.
"That happens a lot I think; a lot of homeless people have lost value in themself and things like this barbecue help them to get it back.
"It's so important to have someone to talk to, and to not be ignored and treated like a ghost."
Mr Richards has since remarried his first wife and moved back into a house, and has stopped selling The Big Issue to take up a shoe-shine franchise.
He welcomes Ipswich's homeless and anyone else interested to attend the event, which will run from 10am to 4pm.
- The barbecue follows the launch of The Big Issue in Ipswich on Monday.
- Eight homeless people have signed up to sell the national magazine in Ipswich.
- The magazine costs $5, with $2.50 going straight to the individual vendor.
- The Big Issue Ipswich sites are the top of the City Mall, the railway station, and the Brisbane and Bell St intersection.