The annual Mandurah couch surfing race was declared a success by organisers, with more than 30 organisations gathering at the Eastern Foreshore to raise awareness of homelessness.
Peel Passages youth worker Jade Gillespie said the August 9 event was larger than the inaugural event last year, and remarkably, they were forced to turn away organisations.
“I think people saw how great it was last year and wanted to be a part of the fun,” she said.
The wild weather nearly spoiled the event, but Ms Gillespie said it held off just long enough to race nine couches, decorated by 14 Mandurah organisations, in time-trials.
“The weather predictions were so bad, and the State Emergency Services were considering if we were able to go ahead with the event,” she said.
“The rain came, but it didn’t last long.
“So much effort had gone into the painting and decorating of these couches, so we are happy it went ahead.”
Peel Passages claimed first place, followed by the joint Palmerston Anglicare couch, then Peel Youth Services.
Ms Gillespie said there were stalls providing information, toiletries, clothing and food.
There was even a hairdresser providing free cuts and a Centrelink booth processing claims.
Ms Gillespie said the event was held to highlight the many different forms of homelessness and the community services available to support people in need.
West Aus Crisis chief Lynn Rodgers said the Mandurah community was one of the most giving.
“I am biased because I live here, but the amount of volunteers we get for events and donations…,” she said
“The Mandurah community is one of the best.”
Ms Rodgers said homeless people in the Peel region could be facing several issues that need addressing, including unemployment, mental health issues or drug and alcohol addiction.
Further, she said there was an increase in homelessness.
In the past four years, there has been an increase of 14,000 homeless people nationally, according to Homelessness Australia.
Ms Rodgers said it impacted society. “Everybody is entitled to food and shelter,” she said.