Narrabri and District Community Aid Service is raising awareness about homelessness in the community with a display and event in Maitland Street this week.

A couch display, which features ‘Bill’ all rugged up, reminds the community that homelessness is more than people sleeping on the streets.

The display, at 119 Maitland Street (next to Baguley’s Jewellers), includes information about the different forms of homelessness as part of National Homelessness Week.

In Australia, an estimated 116,000 people will experience homelessness on any given night.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that of the people experiencing homelessness, 58 per cent are estimated to be men.

The statistics, released as part of the 2016 Census, also showed the most impacted age bracket was 25 to 34-year-olds.

Of the 116,000 people impacted by homelessness on any given day, 20 per cent of those are estimated to be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

A further breakdown in statistics showed that 44 per cent of Australia’s homeless were living in several crowded dwellings, 18 per cent lived in support accommodation, and seven per cent were rough sleepers.

Community development officer Kayla Nehrkorn said awareness was being raised about NDCAS’ services available to anyone who may be experiencing homelessness.

Ms Nehrkorn and NDCAS homelessness caseworker Sam Dearden said rental shortages and affordability were impacting an increase in homelessness.

Coupled with the rising cost of living, the issue of homelessness includes people who have to live with family, or in instances where there might be family issues, stay with friends.

Ms Nehrkorn and Ms Dearden also made mention of food insecurity and affordability, which was also of growing concern.

A free community lunch, open to all members of the public, is being held this Friday at the Maitland Street site. Free food and drinks will be on offer, as well as goodie bags for children.

Services will be featured at the Maitland Street pop-up centre including Summit, WDVCAS/Tamworth Family Support, The Good Samaritans, Salvation Army and Youth Mental Health Support.

The open day on Friday is being held from 9.30am to 2.30pm.

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