RELOCATED: You Have a Friend founder John Lee with some of the food he has on offer for the homeless. He offers free meals in public places several times a week.
RELOCATED: You Have a Friend founder John Lee with some of the food he has on offer for the homeless. He offers free meals in public places several times a week. Scott Davis

Council lends a hand to displaced service

AS THE Commonwealth Games approaches, a Tweed homeless charity has itself been displaced.

You Have a Friend founder John Lee said his organisation had been banned from dishing up free meals for the homeless at Coolangatta's Queen Eliza- beth Park for three months from the start of this week.

But he said the Tweed Shire Council had come to the group's aid, with the group allowed to use space in Chris Cunningham Park, which fronts Jack Evans Boat Harbour in Tweed Heads. Mr Lee said the council had allowed the group to set up its Monday night meal events in the park near Boundary Street, just on the New South Wales side of the border.

"I think they've really made an effort to help me,” Mr Lee said.

Tweed Shire Council general manager Troy Green said they had been working with the City of the Gold Coast and two food service providers to "ensure no disruption to food services provided to the homeless over the period in which Queen Elizabeth Park is closed to all event bookings”.

"Tweed Shire Council is in regular contact with the service providers,” Mr Green said.

"A collaborative approach has been adopted by both councils and the service providers to ensure a smooth transition for the providers and most importantly for those seeking the service.”

Mr Lee said he understood the Gold Coast council's need to free up facilities ahead of the beach volleyball portion of the Commonwealth Games - which will take place in April - but was concerned there would be extra red tape to prevent the group from returning.

A City of the Gold Coast spokeswoman said works on the beach volleyball stadium were due to begin in Queen Elizabeth Park this week.

"This will result in limited access to this area,” she said.

"The city is working very closely with a range of stakeholders including the Gold Coast Homelessness Network and relevant government agencies to support service continuity before, during and after the Games.”

Mr Lee said You Have a Friend would continue to run Sunday morning meals at Goodwin Park, along with Monday evening events beside Jack Evans Boat Harbour.



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