Wrapping Around some Winter Warmth

Selling houses is not the sole concern of an Albury real estate agency that aims to help people through a long, cold winter. Stanley and Martin is asking for donation of clean, surplus blankets, which staff members will arrange to collect and distribute to those sleeping rough. Director Steve Martin says the appeal will run over the next month to six weeks, with the blankets to be given to charities to hand out or even passed on directly to the needy. Mr Martin says the idea arose after temperatures in Albury-Wodonga began to drop. “Some years ago I was an ambassador of the CEO Sleepout, which probably gave me an insight to just how tough it is out on the street”, he says. “I just don’t think it would too much fun, one, sleeping under the stars but worse than that just this really cold weather that we’ve had”. When discussing the plan with staff, Mr Martin found a strong ally in property manager Marissa Coelli, who has done similar work in the past. “That conversation went for a good hour or so where we thought. ‘Well, let’s see what we can do’. “he says.  For Mr Martin, the project continues a longstanding interest in helping the homeless, which had its origins during his term as Real Estate Institute of NSW president. About six years ago he walked to a board meeting through Sydney’s Hyde Park during the year’s first cold snap and passed several people who had slept out the previous night. “By the time I got to the meeting, I just thought ‘This is crazy, here we are, essentially in housing and our core business as estate agents is leasing and selling homes to people and there are all these vacant properties around Sydney, it just doesn’t make sense that people have to live under the stars’.” he says. The institute began a partnership with the St Vincent de Paul Society and members started folding blankets, making soup and working as part of night patrols. “You just feel like you were making a bit of a contribution and it wasn’t about just selling houses,” he says. “It’s just something that I feel very strongly about that if were in housing lets endeavour to make it possible for people to at least have a roof over their head if they choose to do that.” The director says the blanket appeal represents a starting point for Stanley & Martin to join with Border groups and make a difference locally. “If we can just play a very small part and help, I think that’s great,” he says. Stanley & Martin realises the blanket appeal may take some time to gain momentum. “We’ll just keep running it and keep persevering with it with a view if we can make a contribution that would be great.” Mr Martin says. “You’d like to think that it’s the commencement of bigger and better things to come. “But we’ll start with the blankets first off and get some traction, which I’m sure we will. “Once we get that happening we may be able to get a little bit more proscriptive in terms of setting up strategic alliances and things like that and doing it on a more structural basis.” To donate to Stanley & Martin’s blanket appeal, call the agency on (02) 6023 8900.

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