As you know we are proud of our city, and proud of the small part we play in it.
We also know that our industry’s joy is not available to everyone. That’s more apparent in these current days.
These days are difficult for many. Some have been struggling for some time, and others who have been shocked at the sudden change of their situations.
This week we made our EOFY donation to Street Smart Australia – as we wont be taking any tours to make a difference to the total.
This donation makes over $5,000 from Hidden Secrets as part of our commitment to donate $2 for every direct booking made with us since 2016. Thanks to you our clients for choosing us!
Hidden Secrets Tours was born of a want to share stories and help our community, back in 2004 it was purely to share more of Melbourne and support its amazing small businesses to those who may have forgotten to look, or did not know how to. This moment now we seem to be looking at our direct tourism community, and things are tough out there! Its true, Fiona was momentarily unemployed when she began in the business, and house sat to make ends meet during the GFC. Over the years our passionate team has been made up of artists and actors between jobs, country school leavers in the city trying to make ends meet, single mothers with creative flair, stand up comediennes, part time journalists, studying health care professionals, script writers, photographers, retired history teachers and more, all making strategic choices to make their lives work. Choices for some parts of our community are not always available.
We are a team of curious and compassionate guides yet in 2011, as Occupy Melbourne took over the City Square for many weeks, the changing (and growing) face of homelessness was brought out from behind the shadows and into to share our spaces. Then in 2014 when a mentally ill man killed a rough sleeper/homeless man named Mouse in the “out of sight” park area under the railway by the Yarra, it seemed more common to see people sleeping on the streets where we walked as well, perhaps thinking it was safer than in the dark corners. In a city such as ours with over 30 years of positive growth it was devastating to see this, we could not help but be impacted by this relatively sudden change.
Fiona remembers it being quite overwhelming for the team and the guests too. We share our city, and ignoring this was not possible. We sponsored annually a womens Big Issue subscription, and had chats with our regular Big Issue sellers such as Marcus, Paul, Donna, Sharon, Tony and more. It – assisting people out of homelessness - seemed a charitable focus that our team and company could add value in our little patch. Fiona joined the CEO Sleep Out in 2015 and 2016 and raised some moneys, but it seemed one night was not enough to her.
Investigating how we could consciously support this part of our community we finally ended up on the phone to Adam at Street Smart Australia. As a result our main charity has been StreetSmart Australia for many years now, helping their efforts in Action Against Homelessness. Originally $1 per direct booking, and then $2 per direct booking we send through
Why Street Smart Australia? They are Melbourne based They began a year prior to us. Fiona learned of their work through Simon Denton, Adam Cash, and Luke Stringer for an event called “AllStars” (Front of House All Stars Dinner and Auction) A simple idea of dining with purpose. These dinners have happened for 15 years, we think Fiona may have been to the first or second one,and a couple since. StreetSmartAustralia use an innovative micro grants process with groups all over the country and we chose this as we are able to ask that our funds stay for Melbourne based initiatives. We can see how our money is used in different areas of our local community, we also can nominate the percentage that goes to their own survival, as running a charity takes skill and hard work, all of which deserves funding. StreetSmartAustralia work with many of the businesses that we cross paths in Melbourne too with via events like Cafe Smart, Dine Smart, and more recently Smart Meals.
Most recently in 2020 our funds helped programs with Whitelion - Chatterbox, YouthProjects and Justice Connect - Homeless Law
Why are we sharing now?
Winter is coming, and homelessness is never more difficult in the cold. There has been amazing efforts to assist people with some shelter due to Covid19, but we are concerned this has uncertain time frames. All Australians should be able to have access to housing, and the economic impacts of this pandemic are likely to put many more on a perilous path. We want to be proud of all elements of our City including assisting the average 300 a night in Melbourne out of homelessness.
Next month our own city’s Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood will be on the TV show the Filthy Rich and Homeless on SBS.
If you know anyone struggling at this time, reach out to places like the Salvation Army, Life Line, and the City of Melbourne.
We are bummed we were not able to make our target of $1500 for this year to donate to Street Smart, but know that each booking you make with us directly here, we will donate $2 to StreetSmartAustralia. We know their micro grants give a hand up, not a hand out, a valuable difference. So we will pay it forward where we can, add funds to Smart Meals or the SoupProject. We love our city, and cant wait to see you, and our community out in the streets soon.
Thanks! Team HST