On the 7th May, 2016, a team of RRT volunteers in Wollongong donned their RRT gear and went out to support a local charity event called Ride Around the Lake, by providing food and refreshments.

This event has been going for a number of years now and involves bike riders pedalling all manner of bikes 40 km around Lake Illawarra to help ‘break the cycle’ of youth homelessness by raising awareness and funds for the Lighthouse Youth Initiative.

This year they introduced the ‘The People’s Bike’; The People’s Bike is an initiative of The Ride Around the Lake team and was sponsored by businesses and the community. ‘Simply put we want to spread awareness about breaking the cycle of youth homelessness in our region. We figure the best way to do this is to have the people spread the message through a simple bike and a trailer. The bike will be front centre at major events, cafe’s and alongside local heroes right through to Olympic athletes. When you see the People’s Bike pop up near you, be sure to snap a photo and help spread the word about raising money, registering and riding in Ride Around the Lake 2016’.

For many people the image of a homeless person is likely to be of an old man carrying all he owns in a plastic bag and sleeping on the streets, but it’s actually far more likely that the homeless person will be under the age of 30. According to Southern Youth and Family Services (SYFS), nearly half of Australia’s homeless population is under 25 years of age.

The Illawarra-based service said that, on any given night, 26,000 young people in Australia are homeless. According to the 2011 census, 1203 young people in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven were homeless on census night.

Organisers of the 7th annual Ride Around the Lake on Saturday have labelled the event a huge success, saying more than $25,000 has been raised to help fight youth homelessness.

The event attracted a record 540 riders, from children as young as five (riding unassisted) to senior citizens.

Organiser Paul Bartlett, from the Lighthouse Church group, said there was plenty of community spirit on show as individuals and families took part in either the 10km event or the 40km ride.

“It was an extremely successful day – we had the most riders we’ve ever had,” he said.

The organisers and many riders spoke appreciatively of the support RRT offered the event and look forward to the teamplaying an even greater role next year.

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