Our origins

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Our origins

The Haymarket Foundation had its origins in a green caravan set up on the weighbridge serving Paddy’s Market in the Haymarket area.

The caravan was set up in 1974 by Dr Charles Blower, who was Deputy Medical Director of Sydney Hospital, with the support of the hospital and the City of Sydney.

Dr Blower saw first-hand that many people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage ended up in the hospital’s emergency department – and that they were generally not made welcome by the doctors on duty.

Additionally, he noted that most treatment programs administered were ineffective as people experiencing homelessness were unable to keep medical appointments and maintain follow up medications.

Dr Blower was also able to see other structural disadvantage facing this community: he was concerned that people with alcohol issues often died in police cells.

In response, he started a secular service that was non-judgemental and which existed only to provide care and assistance.

The caravan operated from 4pm – 10pm and saw an average of 15 clients per evening. It was staffed by a volunteer Junior Resident Medical Officer, a Registered Nurse and when possible a Social Worker provided by Sydney Hospital and this was facilitated by June Lewis then registrar in the Casualty Department. The service provided very basic medical and nursing care and some sustenance when possible, for example, a cup of soup and bread roll. Clients suffered from a wide variety of medical conditions typical to people with alcohol issues such as heart failure, liver and kidney problems, cellulitis and many suffered from mental health disorders.

It was established that this was a highly specialised clientele which could benefit from sustained medical support in a permanent location, employing professional doctors and nurses who could build specialist knowledge in this field and from which a wider range of services could be provided.

The Haymarket Foundation has expanded its scope over the decades – and its services now include a crisis accommodation facility, other services for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness and those with drug and alcohol issues.