Homeless backpacks are saving lives in Toowoomba
WHEN Tiffany Spary from The Basement Soup Kitchen heard two people lost toes in Toowoomba's winter last year, she knew she could do more.
Now that extra effort has been acknowledged with the community development organisation awarded an Australia Day Hero Award for distribution of a backpack bed by charity Homeless Backpack Bed.
The Toowoomba service gained one of 20 international awards from the nationally accredited Australian charity.
The Homeless Backpack Bed is a single person camping tent that's ultra-light, waterproof, fire retardant and mildew resistant.
It has a built-in mattress and rolls into an ergonomic backpack.
Mrs Spary said the service gave out about two to three backpacks a week.
"Unfortunately we've seen this increase so much. About five years ago we gave out three or four a month," she said.
"We wish we could give everyone a bed but unfortunately we don't offer accommodating but homelessness is a growing problem."
Homeless Backpack Bed founder Tony Clark said the charity organisation relied on amazing people doing amazing thing to help every day Australians sleeping on streets.
"We have partnered with more than 500 services to distribute Backpack Beds and each and everyone of them do an amazing job," he said.
"We wanted to recognise Base Services because they do such a lot in their part of the world.
"They encounter people in desperate situations and they are willing to go that extra mile to take care of their community."
ABS statistics show in 2011 that 40,878 people slept on Australian streets each year.
To date, more than 23,000 Homeless Backpack Beds have been distributed to homeless people.