St John’s Darlinghurst Community Services

Life’s rough at the edges

Over the two days and four nights per week it’s open, the Rough Edges cafe serves over 100 people who are disadvantaged, homeless or at risk of homelessness. Relying on donations from local businesses and restaurants, Rough Edges provides food, a safe lounge-room style environment, television and games. Hospitality and relationships with patrons are at the heart of the vision of Rough Edges. Over 80 volunteers assist the church to operate the Rough Edges Cafe.

During daytime sessions, Rough Edges cafe doubles as a waiting room for Community Assistance and Partnership Program (CAPP) services, which provide 40-minute appointments for legal advice, counselling, financial and practical assistance. While they wait, clients can have a coffee, something to eat and a chat with Rough Edges volunteers.

Rough Edges partnered with the Milk Crate Theatre to offer patrons acting lessons with professional actors. At the end of each series of classes, patrons participate in a play put on at Edward Eager Lodge. These and other community development programs, such as community lunches and a community garden, are designed to enhance the wellbeing of community members.

CAPP also collects and distributes resources to alleviate financial and material stress. CAPP workers collaborate with other agencies to build stronger connections with schools, businesses, the church and other organisations with shared goals.

All donations are tax deductible.

ABN 28 525 237 517

  • Give thanks for the extensive training conducted over many years which has resulted in over 80 volunteers assisting with the Rough Edges Cafe each evening.
  • Give thanks for the growth of the project over twenty years and its extensive relationships with the local community and the different projects which have spun off this project.
  • Pray for the ongoing outreach to people who utilise the cafe for food and friendship.

Case Study – pro bono

Mr L was of a non-English speaking background. He was on a disability pension with cognitive disabilities from a car accident and possibly also suffering from a mental illness. Although he lived in a private rented home, Mr L led a nomadic lifestyle.

He attended the centre as he was facing imminent eviction from his home because of non-payment of rent and the approaching end of the rental agreement. Mr L’s non-payment of rent was because of his misunderstanding of the termination notice from the landlord.

The landlord had begun eviction proceedings in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. St Johns Legal Centre represented Mr L and negotiated a significant reduction in his rental arrears as well as an extension of his tenancy so he could arrange temporary accommodation. 

The centre found Mr L already had a priority application for public housing with Housing NSW but was refusing all its offers, possibly because of his cognitive problems. The centre then liaised with the tenancy service at Redfern Legal Centre and with a housing worker at Matthew Talbot to secure long-term housing.

St Johns Legal Centre gathered medical and agency reports to make an “at risk” submission to Housing NSW, which should give Mr L the highest priority in future offers of housing.