Stitching hope for Wodonga’s rough sleepers.


March 15, 2024

Uniting’s Ruffy Swag project is a new initiative led by Uniting’s Wodonga office. The purpose of the project is to produce swags locally to distribute to those sleeping rough.

The idea for this project sprang from the critical need of warmth and bedding for those experiencing homelessness within the Goulburn Northeast region.

“Looking for community partnerships to be able to make backpacks and swags, is not solving a problem but it gives people dignity that they can have a portable bed on their back and have something warm to sleep in every night,” says Uniting’s Emergency Relief Coordinator in Wodonga, Catherine Byrne.

St Leonard’s Uniting Church Brighton have been a key reason the program has been able to get off the ground.

“The project has been challenging at times but luckily this wonderful seed funding has come from St Leonard’s Uniting Church through their Coffee Cup Challenge proceeds,” she says.

The Beechworth Uniting Church has also generously donated to the program.

“It’s amazing these funds can come in and help a region with their homelessness problem,” says Catherine.

A Ruffy Swag.

Beechworth Correctional Centre are proudly partnering with Uniting to create the swags.

The Correctional Centre has expanded their current program with industrial sewing machines to develop the backpack swags. Community volunteers are stepping in to teach the skill of drafting patterns and basic sewing skills to participants at the Correctional Centre who volunteer to support the program.

Carevan, an organisation based in Albury, who provide warm meals to those experiencing homelessness will help to

distribute the swags to those in need, as well as source further funding.

“We want to make change and help those who are sleeping rough and empower the participants at the correctional centre in a well-meaning program,” says Catherine.

“The Ruffy Swag project will assist people who find themselves homeless in Victoria and New South Wales.”

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