Main Image: Lining up for a meal at the Emmanuel City Mission. Listen ECM Director Roby Curtis speaks with Jess Drummond about the work and vision of the South Brisbane sanctuary for the homeless.
In a world that’s busy with work and other daily commitments, an organisation in South Brisbane offers a daytime sanctuary to some of our city’s most vulnerable people.
Emmanuel City Mission (ECM) opens its doors every day to those experiencing homelessness and other practically challenging circumstances, to provide them with material assistance, a safe place off the streets, and a sense of community.
The Merivale Street site, open between 9am and 3pm weekdays and weekends between 9am and 1pm, offers nutritious food, showers and washing facilities, toiletries, clothing, and a place to go.
“It’s a positive and healthy alternative to [there being] not a lot of options or not a lot of things to do outside of the public arena,” says ECM Director Roby Curtis. “We’re really looking to try to encourage [guests] to use that time effectively for bettering their circumstance.”
Beyond the efforts to support guests in practical ways, ECM exists to provide hope and healing by speaking into their identity and true worth.
“I see a lot of breakthroughs in lives – I see a lot of people who break really vicious cycles and move forward for maybe the first time in a few generations in their bloodline,” says Roby.
“I see others who really try and continue to backslide, but what I’ve learned is that we’re on a journey, and regardless of season there is grace. There is strength; there is good news in the midst of the most struggle in our society.”
As a community-funded organisation relying on donations and volunteers, ECM has a five-year goal to expand to twilight services, with a view to eventually become a 24-hour drop-in centre.
“We believe that we, the Brisbane community, could easily achieve [24-hour services] should people play their part. We’re relying on many to join that journey and that effort.”
In the meantime, Roby is encouraging us to remember that not everybody has the same start in life, and not to buy into stereotypes that we might hear about people who are homeless.
“We’ve just got to be so kind to those around us – especially those that are the most difficult to be in relationship with and love,” he says.
“It’s the central nervous system of the Gospel, that we show radical kindness and extend ourselves to people that are somewhat difficult to love at times, and just go all out for them anyway. We never know what impact we’re making regardless of what our eyes may perceive in response or what’s reciprocated.”
Listen to Roby Curtis speaking about the work of the Emmanuel City Mission in the audio player at the top of the page.