New app ‘seeks to narrow the gap’
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New app ‘seeks to narrow the gap’

WHEN we see someone experiencing homelessness, it can be hard to know how to help.

Rabbi Mendel Kastel speaking at the app's launch at NSW Parliament.
Rabbi Mendel Kastel speaking at the app's launch at NSW Parliament.

WHEN we see someone experiencing homelessness, it can be hard to know how to help.

But an innovative new homelessness app called Mend, which was launched last week at the NSW Parliament, “proves that every one of us, no matter our background, expertise or knowledge, can come together to make a difference to improve the lives of thousands of Australians doing it tough”, said co-president of Jewish House, Roger Clifford.

Developed by CEO of Jewish House Rabbi Mendel Kastel and Sydney entrepreneur Alexandra Tselios, Mend enables members of the public to enter details about a homeless person, make a report and start the process of connecting them to an essential service.

“We’re working on getting all the services and mapping it,” said Rabbi Kastel, who added that Mend – a collaborative project between Jewish House and several partners – is also aimed at collecting data around homelessness.

Drawing on his experience in Filthy, Rich and Homeless last year, MP Alex Greenwich, remarked, “I can tell you it is an extremely rough time, you don’t know where you are going, you don’t know who to ask for help and there is a big divide between you and the public, and this app seeks to narrow that gap.”

Referring to the state government’s commitment to halving street homelessness by 2025, Minister Gareth Ward said via video, “The Berejiklian government has signed up to an ambitious target, and it’s by using innovations like this that we are going to reach it.”

The idea for the game-changing app was inspired by similar programs in other cities, including New York.

Former MP and convenor of the Act to End Street Sleeping program Graham West referred to Rabbi Kastel’s commitment, passion and innovation as traits that prompted him to lead the charge in starting the app in Sydney.

“He said, ‘I’m not waiting for anyone to bring the app here, I’m going to do it,'” recalled West, while Labor MLC Walt Secord commented, “I’ve known Rabbi Mendel Kastel for 31 years and he lives by the Hebrew adage, tikkun olam.”

Mend can be downloaded on Google Play or the App Store.

SOPHIE DEUTSCH

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