Heather’s bold mission

Heather’s bold mission

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ADRA project manager Heather Stewart Johnson is on a mission to help the homeless. Photograph — Aaron Van Rongen.

Seventy-three-year old Heather Stewart Johnson said she firmly believes the City of Canning has a bigger issue of homelessness than the council is aware of.

Helping combat homelessness for Ms Stewart is much more than just feeding them and giving them shelter.

She said it was about giving them a place to connect with each other, to heal and to see a light at the other end of the tunnel.

Ms Stewart said she sometimes has five to six people come to her in tears to talk about how they feel and she believes this is something they don’t get out there in the street.

“They need someone to listen and I can’t solve their problems but I can be a willing ear to them,” she said.

The church ADRA project manager has been on a mission for more than six years to combat the issue of homelessness and is not planning on stopping.

“When I asked homeless people what they would be doing if they didn’t have places like this to get help, they said they would be breaking into houses looking for food, or money to buy food,” she said.

“Police have informally told us to not stop what we are doing because the crime rates are dropping in the area.

“There are men out there with degrees with fantastic education background but their age or a circumstance have put them in a homeless area and once you get there it is so hard to climb out.

“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without community involvement.

“The volunteers that are coming are all broken too and they all have reasons to be here and they feel less broken when they leave.”

Ms Stewart attended this month’s ordinary council meeting to publicly speak about the issue of homelessness and be a voice to those vulnerable in the community.

City of Canning councillor Sara Saberi passed a motion to have council collaborate with the state government to find ways to combat the issue but Ms Stewart believes what the state government is doing is not enough.

“I think what council now needs to do is to get a council meeting or consultative meeting with all the agencies and the people who are dealing with homelessness and maybe combine it with the City of Gosnells to find out better ways to help vulnerable people in the community,” she said.