Over the years we have come to know hundreds of people who are spending time in our back laneway, next to Credo Café in the Melbourne CBD. Recently we had some folks sleeping rough there for some time: George, Mary and Pete. When our new friends were getting set to move on after their stay, they got out some brooms and were sweeping up. One of our workers, Greg, asked them why they stayed so long.
Mary said, ‘A lot of places you go you feel judged. But it didn’t feel this way here. It felt like you were relating to us as people. We felt safe and respected.’
Hearing this strengthens our commitment to the way we relate to people as friends, not clients. What we’re doing is offering good hospitality, even in our laneway, by treating people with dignity and respect.
Mary is Aboriginal, and the laneway is a space where many indigenous people feel comfortable. While there wasn’t direct conflict here, we are part of a bigger story that is marked by a lot of conflict: colonists vs First Peoples, professionals vs homeless, centre vs margins. The hospitality we could offer in the laneway was a way of reconciling across all those divides.