Wayside Chapel Pastor and CEO, Jon Owen is proud to provide thousands of people in need with a safe space to gain equitable access to essential health, social and recreational services as well as unconditional love and support and a place to share their stories and experience without fear of judgement.

“The impact of homelessness on our streets is truly devastating. Australians are under extreme financial pressures with the cost-of-living increasing in recent months. We have seen people, even families, forced to sleep on the streets and turn to services like Wayside as they do not have any other option.

“We are grateful to be able to provide support and services for the many people who walk through our doors during some of the hardest times of their lives. There are many people who thank us for our services, but really, we are the lucky ones who get to meet these extraordinary people who are motivated to create a better life for themselves with shelter and comfort off the streets,” Pastor Jon says.

“A man who understands better than most what it is like to sleep on the streets is one of our Wayside visitors, Byron.

“Byron found Wayside after well and truly hitting rock bottom. Byron is an example of someone who made a conscious effort to avoid the devastating path of alcohol and drug addiction which he was witness to during his upbringing, but sadly fell into a period of drug and gambling addiction forcing him onto the streets.

“Byron had done everything to provide a better life for his children, often working multiple jobs but after a relationship breakdown at 55 years of age, Byron’s life spiralled and he ended up living on the streets. Byron is now out the other side and goes to bed in the same place every night and can walk from his front door to his front fence and see Bondi Beach. Sadly, we know there are still so many people struggling and not everyone has the same experience as Byron.

“According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data on homelessness, there are more than 116,000 people experiencing homelessness in Australia. However, we are not seeing the number of people needing support decreasing, so we can only assume this is continuing to grow.

“We are encouraging the community to put themselves in the shoes of those sleeping on the streets and participate in the Long Walk Home fundraiser this Friday, 7 October, which is a 28km walk from Parramatta to Kings Cross. People outside of Sydney can do the virtual version online wherever they are located.

“The inspiration for the Long Walk Home challenge sprang from our own data after we provided pedometers to some of our regular homeless visitors, and discovered that some of them were walking, on average, about 28 km every week to access vital support services, food and to find a safe place to sleep.

“We want to help more people like Byron overcome the challenges of homelessness as we know there are so many people struggling to put a roof over their head. If we can provide support services, or even just a friendly face for those in need, we know we are doing something to make a difference.”

To find out more about how you can participate or donate, head to the Long Walk Home.

This article is shared and powered by mom.Connect

  • It’s really tragic how the number of homeless Aussies are only increasing. Really wish those in power could do more to assist before it even comes close to it being an option. Housing needs to be the forefront issue next election.


  • It’s good way to teach other about this issue.


  • if at no other time during the year, Christmas is a wonderful time to think of those less fortunate


  • Teaching our kids to pay it forward. Hopefully the next generation can help those in need


  • What a fantastic idea. Unfortunately I don’t think it will help as much as it needs to but it’s certainly a step on the right direction


  • Empathy is soo important! However it’s terribly sad that we are in the year 2022 and homelessness is not only extremely present within australia but the rates are increasing..


  • Had the pleasure of working with Jon at a school some years ago and was amazed at how awesomely he changed the lives and attitudes of all who came in contact with him, especially the children. Compassion, understanding, love and care was extremely obvious. Prayer and blessings to him.


  • A fantastic story about overcoming the hurdles in front of him but unfortunately not all stories will have a happy ending. Imagination doesn’t do justice to walking a ‘mile in their shoes’, but if it touches a person’s heart strings and brings forth a donation, that is all one can wish for.


  • While we can empathise, we’ll never really know what it’s like to be homeless until we live in.


  • It’s a hard time for many, some more than others.


  • Victoria does a charitable initiative too. Nobody should be homeless. We should be providing options.


  • This is a great initiative. Sadly, the cost of living is still increasing and the rental crisis is getting worse leaving more and more people homeless.


  • I think its important for everyone to have empathy – it can make the world of difference


  • Empathy never fails, it’s good to put yourself in the shoes of the homeless and help them where we can


  • Homelessness is a huge concern. I have worked with many homeless people and the stories I hear are quite disturbing and sad. I normally help out with Christmas In The Park for the homeless on the 25/12 in my state. So rewarding.

    • That’s beautiful mum223151, good on you !


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