Written by Julia Day

Imagine this- you are a mum with a couple of young kids. For whatever reason you have fallen on hard times and have found yourself with nowhere to sleep for the night. Perhaps you have encountered violence within the family home or your part time job has fallen through…

If this was you-one of the options you have for help is the Armidale Women’s Shelter. When you get to the shelter you will most definitely be met by friendly, supportive and compassionate staff. Unfortunately, the standard of the accommodation is less than palatial!  The bedrooms are basic and often there are 5-6 people sleeping in one room. All occupants share one bathroom- which is less than ideal!

Penny Lamaro speaking at the Trivia Night

When Armidale Rotary became aware of this situation, they wanted to help. They generously decided to donate the proceeds of their annual Trivia Night to the Shelter. The outcome of this fundraising event was even more successful than was initially expected. Rotary were hoping to raise $20,000 from the night. This target was blitzed and instead a total of $43,200 was made as a result of both the trivia night and other donations. This money will be used to make the accommodation at the Armidale Women’s Shelter more welcoming and comfortable for women and children in crisis.

Penny Lamaro, who is the Manager of the Shelter, gave an impassioned speech at the Trivia Night. She noted the following:

  • 3,484 women in Armidale have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner.
  • At any given night in Armidale and surrounds, there are approximately 50 women and their families- who are considered homeless.
  • Every year the Armidale Women’s Shelter receives 600 referrals. They have not had an empty bed since 2019!
  • In 2021 the Armidale Women’s Shelter provided 2,428 beds for people in need.

Penny explained that there are many reasons women become homeless. Some common examples include violence and abuse, unemployment, rising house costs and physical and mental health issues. Penny also noted that the only real difference between women who find themselves homeless and the rest of us is ‘bad luck and unfortunate circumstances!’

Many of us don’t realise the extensive work the Armidale Women’s Shelter undertakes. Aside from the important work relating to crisis care, the team also help women transition into longer term housing. In addition, the service works closely with other support agencies- to give women in crisis the best possible support!

Thank you, Armidale Rotary Club, for your generosity and kindness!!