Love Over Hate and Peace to All.
Every Christmas Day, The Wayside Chapel in Sydney provides a cracking Christmas Street Party to top all other Christmas street parties. Ever.
Strict are the Rules of Entry though and one must wholeheartedly adopt the following themes – Inclusion, Kindness, Respect, Friendship and Celebration.
The Guest List
Locals, Chapel Visitors, Families, Supporters, Ambassadors, Volunteers, Staff, Dogs and Elvis.
The Role of the Party Goer
Meeting New Friends, Chatting, Singing, Eating, Laughing, Dancing or Simply Just Being there.
There is a seat there for you. There is a seat there for everyone.
The Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s Potts Point has been providing guidance and support for Sydney’s homeless and disadvantaged inner city community since 1964 when it was founded by the late social welfare pioneer Ted Noffs.
Much work has been done and many funds have been raised by the dedicated staff and volunteers at Wayside over the years in keeping this vital inner-city charity alive and well. In 2004, Reverend Graham Long took the ropes and became the CEO driving force in building and expanding this mini empire of social inclusion, providing much-needed dignity, care and ultimately a soft place to land for many who hit hard times ever since.
Graham was born in 1951 in Ballarat, Victoria and his father was a Pastor. After studying social work and working in the fields of residential care homes, child protection and community welfare, he began his theological studies in 1978 before embarking on a 4-year ministry placement in Castle Hill.
In 1987, he became the Chaplain in Parramatta Prison and director of the welfare departments of Churches of Christ in NSW. Overseeing services such as domestic violence refuges, meals for the homeless and refugee settlement programs, Graham was able to work and achieve a variety of successes with his philosophy that welfare projects need to be firmly based in the community and not in large central agencies.
To date, Graham has published 2 books, ‘Us and Them’ (2011) and ‘Stories from the Wayside’ (2013). He is currently working on a third beautifully insightful book which will be published later in 2016.
Earlier this year Graham was nationally recognised for his tireless hard work in providing services to the most vulnerable and marginalised people in society and was awarded and recognised as Member for the Order of Australia (AM).
Photography – Darren J Topliss for Iconic & Vintage. Location – The Wayside Chapel Christmas Day Street Party 2014 Potts Point in Sydney.
The Christmas Day Street Party 2015
A Seat For Everyone
There are over 350 people sleeping rough on Sydney streets each night, but every single one of them will have a seat at the table at The Wayside Chapel’s annual Christmas Day Street Party on Friday, 25 December 2015.
To acknowledge the 352 people sleeping rough in the City of Sydney every night (stats taken from the City of Sydney street count 2015) and to let them know they will be welcomed with open arms on Christmas Day, The Wayside Chapel will be hanging 352 gold stars on its Christmas tree in the chapel on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 10am.
Since the 1960s, the Wayside Chapel’s Christmas Day Street Party has provided an opportunity for the lonely, homeless and disadvantaged to celebrate a true community Christmas and this year is no different. Hughes Street in Kings Cross, home to the iconic Wayside Chapel, will be closed to traffic as it comes alive with festivities including street dancing, carols and a sit-down Christmas lunch for over 800 expected guests.
Reverend Graham Long AM, CEO and Pastor of The Wayside Chapel, celebrates his 12th Christmas at Wayside and is calling on Sydneysiders to make sure they don’t forget about those who don’t have a supportive network of friends and family to turn to this Christmas.
“Putting on a lunch for 800 people is no easy feat and as the rest of Sydney starts to wind down, we pick up the pace, to make sure that no-one misses out at this special time of year. We’re busy organising some 50 hams, 40 turkeys, kg of prawns, 500 plum puddings and 55 litres of ice cream, along with plenty of Christmas entertainment to ensure our community can share in the magic of Christmas,” said Rev Graham Long.
“The event is a reminder of the true values of Christmas – generosity, gratitude and giving back. Everyone is welcome to attend the event but if you can’t join us, you can contribute to the day by ‘Donating a Plate’ to people who have done it tough this year. $25 can make sure someone who has nowhere else to go on Christmas Day can enjoy lunch in the company of people who care,” said Rev. Graham Long.
Christmas Day will start at 10.30am with a Church Service on the street lead by Rev. Graham Long, last year attracting some 450 people. A generous lunch with the full trimmings will be served at 12.30pm by an army of 200 generous volunteers.
One person who will be filled with gratitude on Christmas Day is Wayside visitor Lani McLachlan. Lani started coming to Wayside a few years ago when she was sleeping on the streets and needed help. Since then, Wayside has helped Lani turn her life around by securing stable housing and providing a safe place for her to spend her days.
“If it wasn’t for Wayside, I’d be spending Christmas on my own with just my dog for company. Instead, I’ll be at Wayside, singing in the Christmas choir and spreading as much cheer as I can. I spend Christmas at Wayside because it’s my home and my family. People respect me, understand me and give me a shoulder to cry on when I need it. The care people show on Christmas Day is overwhelming and so special,” said Ms McLachlan.
*Media Release courtesy of The Wayside Chapel.
To ‘Donate a Plate’ to someone in need this Christmas.
The Wayside Chapel Christmas Day Street Party 2014 Photo Album
About The Wayside Chapel
The Wayside Chapel has provided unconditional love, care and support for people on and around the streets of Kings Cross since 1964. Today, under the banner of ‘Love over Hate’, Wayside runs a community services centre, youth space and outreach service, mental health program, community café, and Aboriginal project. All programs are designed to ensure that the most marginalised members of our community have access to essential health, welfare, social and recreational services, as well as a judgment-free place where people are welcome just to ‘be’.
This year we were incredibly honoured to employ Andrew Windsor. Andrew battled homelessness and addiction for many years before turning his life around and getting clean. After a year of volunteering, Andrew was employed to be the Wayside barista and more recently as the Wayside baker. He tells a tale about the role Rev Graham Long has had on his life.
“I first met Graham in 2007 and he asked me to come into his office. I was shocked and nervous. Based on my experience with other clergymen, I felt like I needed to pull my socks up, get a haircut, look sharp… but Graham just invited me into his office and said he wanted to get to know me better. We started talking about my family, and the experiences that led me into addiction. I think we both cried that afternoon, and a friendship was born.”
“Graham didn’t judge me, there was no judgement, it was just the offer of a hand of friendship. I was pretty unlovable at the time, homeless and drug addicted and I didn’t have much hope. But all I ever heard from Graham is that I’m here for you if you need me. And he doesn’t even say that in words either, he says it with his actions, he always stops and says “How are you?” and always takes time out of his busy days. One of my favourite things that Graham says is that “there’s nothing wrong with tears in church” because often I’m sitting in church blubbering because of a deep pain uncovered, or just because I’m thinking about my gratitude for the love from my fellow Waysiders.”
“One day before church I said to Graham that an old drug dealer that help calling me up and trying to sell to me. And I’ve been clean since 2007. And Graham rarely offers advice, but this was a pretty desperate situation, so he told me to start preaching down the phone, and wrote out some lines of a hymn for me. And then every time the dealer called I and I got the paper from my pocket and sang “You are my strength my god, you are my hope my god” and kept going and going, and he just yelled “Are you crazy?” He stopped calling me pretty quick, though. And I didn’t see him for months and months until three weeks ago I saw him coming out of Kings Cross railway station, and he turned and ran the other way!”
“I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you Graham, for all that you do. You tell me that God says I’m OK, and no one has ever told me I’m OK in my entire life, so that means so much.” Andrew Windsor
Plans & Events for 2016
With Wayside’s recent expansion into Bondi to manage the Chapel by the Sea, Community Services Centre at Norman Andrews House, and the North Bondi and Bondi Beach Op Shops, we will be strengthening our work in the Eastern Suburbs in 2016 and increasing our reach into the community.
We will also be entering the Mardi Gras Parade with a fabulously over the top float and hosting our second annual Slam Poetry Competition and Wayside’s Got Talent variety show. In September we will launch our new book which is a follow-up to Stories from the Wayside and will feature stunning photography by Gary Heery and a series of essays by Rev Graham Long.
Reverend Graham Long AM, Wayside Marketing and Fundraising Manager Laura Watts, Photographer Darren J Topliss, all the Great Wayside Staff and Volunteers and the Wonderful People of Potts Point.
Merry Christmas and Peace to All.