How Ipswich's homeless celebrate Christmas
DRESSED in an extravagant white fairy costume with an infectious smile and a slice of pizza in one hand, Stacey Foreman sits in the middle of Queens Park at one of the most unusual Christmas dinners Ipswich has ever seen.
"Without Rosies I would just be at home alone sitting in my unit," she said.
And the family she is sharing this Christmas dinner with? They are fellow struggling locals, many without homes to go back to, some who live in hostels like Ms Foreman and some who are battling their own physical and mental illnesses.
As different as they are, this unlikely family comes together to celebrate the holiday season before going their separate ways back out onto the streets of Ipswich.
Unlike many family gatherings over Christmas, there are no arguments, no fighting over who gets the best part of the roast and no gifts to be seen.
It's simply a group of about 30 people enjoying each other's company, courtesy of Rosies Friends On The Street.
The Queensland charity hosts their Christmas event in early December each year to help give the spirit of the season to Ipswich's diverse homeless population.
Men who should be enjoying the benefits of retirement, women in their late teens who should be living life to the fullest and even young children still in their school uniforms come together to share pizza, donated by Pizza Capers North Ipswich.
"I love Rosies," Ms Foreman said.
"They help me out with clothes, how to get my medication, food, vouchers and the stuff I need.
"It would be a lot different without them."
Meals like this one are led by a group of dedicated Rosies volunteers.
Wearing her trademark red uniform and a bright red Christmas hat, Rosies Ipswich team leader Julia Deegmulder handed out food to her patrons.
"It's about getting a meal and helping them with anything they need but it's also about building a relationship," she said.
"Our patrons can range from parents with young children to the elderly.
"Many have mental or physical illnesses so we collaborate with a lot of stakeholders and organisations like Pizza Capers to make sure they are looked after."
Pizza Capers North Ipswich franchisee Katherine McNamara said she was honoured to partner with the Queensland Times and be involved in the event.
"We hope that the event helps raise awareness for people in the community who may be experiencing, or might be at risk of homelessness," she said.
"This is a great cause to be supporting and a way to thank all of the volunteers for all of their hard work and support they provide to the local community.
Ms Deegmulder said the numbers of people visiting the Rosies van increased in the lead up to Christmas.
"It's absolutely busier at this time of year," she said.
"We're not just here for the homeless. We support anyone that's struggling.
"It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from. There's no judgement here."
Rosies visit Queens Park on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5pm-7pm and are parked at the top of Ipswich Mall, opposite d'Arcy Doyle Place every Friday from 7pm-9pm.
For more information or to volunteer visit rosies.org.au.