300 Blankets was borne out of the basic principles of compassion, respect and care towards all people in our community.
In 2012, two volunteers with the St Vincent de Paul Society Soup Vans, Warren Tu and Kim Nguyen, decided that something had to be done to curb the shortage of blankets they identified on their rounds of Melbourne’s streets. After food and water, blankets was the most sought after product and there was never enough. Driven to make a difference, they decided to raise enough funds to purchase 300 blankets, on the premise that the soup van would encounter approximately 300 people in one evening.
Since 2012, 300 Blankets has become one of the largest suppliers of blankets for people at risk or are experiencing homelessness in Victoria. We have also continued to recognise and address other challenges faced by people in Melbourne. In 2015 we developed the Outreach Program providing critical services including the provision of material aid, advice on access to homelessness services and tackling social isolation for people sleeping rough in Melbourne’s CBD. The Outreach Program is currently operating in the CBD twice weekly.
A Victorian Government 2017 situation appraisal of homelessness in Victoria, identified that there was a tendency towards the centralisation of homeless services in central Melbourne, despite the fact people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness are gravitating to the outer suburbs where there is a comparative deficiency of available services . In 2018, 300 Blankets recognised the need to provide services to vulnerable individuals and families outside of the Melbourne CBD. We identified an opportunity to partner with Bridge Church and Maribyrnong City Council to open a safe and welcoming weekly service to the local community at the Braybrook Community Hub which we called Soul Kitchen; where individuals and families could come together to share a healthy meal and build relationships.
Today, 300 Blankets comprises a management team of unpaid volunteers along with a band of casual volunteers who contribute to our work. We maintain a focus on addressing stereotypes and stigmas associated with homelessness and engage with a number of institutions and organisations across Victoria, sharing our experiences of the issues faced by people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.