Aug 6, 2019, 14:00 PM
The chilly temperatures gripping Melbourne this winter have fired up one Citywide employee, who’s made it his mission to collect unwanted clothes for the alarming numbers of people living on the city’s streets.
Brent McBrien is no stranger to socially minded projects, but he has become particularly passionate since he connected with the Port Melbourne-based charity, Anonymous X, last year.
Brent, a tree auditor with our City of Port Phillip contract, was moved by the “personal touch” of Anonymous X’s volunteers – who are renowned for getting to know the people they support, and finding out how they can help them individually.
“They don’t just take a bunch of assorted clothes and hand them out,” says Brent. “They know what sizes people are, what they actually want and need. If someone has to go to a funeral or a court date, they’ll provide the clothes to help them look smart for it.”
After collecting some clothes from family and friends, Brent printed up a series of flyers and started reaching out to colleagues at Citywide’s Port Melbourne Depot. “A bunch of people have brought in clothes, and several have promised to collect more from their families,” he says.
“I think a lot of people are inspired to know that their clothes could really make a difference to someone. They’re not just dropping them off at a charity store and hoping for the best.”
Brent is no stranger to community spirited projects. Two years ago, he launched his own start-up, H₂O in a Carton, to develop biodegradable packaging for locally sourced drinking water – a business that’s at an advanced stage of development.
But for now, when he’s not inspecting trees, the 41-year-old’s sights are firmly focused on the plight of the homeless.
“I had a real wake-up moment when I visited Skid Row in Los Angeles last year, and I realised how utterly grim it could be living on the streets,” says Brent. “Then when I came home to Melbourne, I saw the same thing was happening on our doorstep.
“We’re so fortunate to live in a city like this, where all the facets of a good life are right there at our fingertips. But we forget that, for a growing number of people, life is miserable and cold and just damned hard.”
Anonymous X offers advocacy and support to people experiencing homelessness in and around Melbourne, including providing clothes, bedding, sanitary items, and other essentials. For more information, visit: www.anonymousx.com.au/
(Photos: Courtesy Anonymous X)