Sunday, February 2, 2014

One Man's Dream

Often people see homeless folks on the streets but they don’t really see them. To people, privileged with a roof over their heads, the homeless are often regarded as faceless, the kind of people you see in a blur but who don’t really exist, who don’t really consist of flesh and blood, who are not worth a second look, eye contact or a friendly “hello”, but who are easy targets for abuse because chances that they will report the abuse to the police are slim. Yet those people are people. With feelings and needs, hopes and dreams. People just like anyone else, really, just without a home due to circumstances unknown by passers-by, but there are always circumstances that cause people to be without a roof over their heads. And amongst those people, as amongst any group of humans, there are true gems. The gems amongst the homeless, however, mostly go unnoticed or unrecognized. This blog post is about one such gem and what he accomplished.

Once upon a time a homeless man had a dream. He dreamed of helping other homeless people, and of helping anyone who was in need. He knew from experience what it was like to be seen in a blur, to not really exist for others, to be abused, to not have his needs heard. He started to make his dream reality by helping people, one by one. From the little money he earned as a Big Issue vendor he bought food for others on a one-on-one basis, and they had a talk. He heard many life stories, and when he heard people wanting to get ahead in life, he did what he could to help them achieve that. As a Big Issue vendor he had established many contacts of people of all backgrounds, and so contacts to help people with accommodation, other help or even employment were easily made. At first he did not have a mobile phone, so he spent another lot of his little income on pay phones making contacts for others.

One day a lady gave him clothes to give to someone who needed them. That afternoon someone was wearing the clothes, and with the thrill of seeing the recipient’s joy the idea for a BBQ for homeless people and others in need was born. He collected clothes, shoes, hygiene products and anything else homeless people might need, and help from the community was instant and huge. People donated in droves. Not only clothes, toiletries and what have you, but also money to be able to put food on the table at the BBQ. The BBQ was a great success. Around 400 homeless people turned up along with volunteers, and for everybody this was a heartfelt and wonderful event.

The huge success of this BBQ inspired this homeless man to organize more BBQs like this one, and from here it grew over the years. Five-star caterers came on board (thank you, Dalton Hospitality!), donations of goods kept coming in, homeless support services came to the BBQs to help those in need in different areas, not to mention the many beautiful volunteers that assist at every BBQ. The homeless people coming to the BBQs experience that there are people for whom they are not a blur, for whom they are people of flesh and blood, who do think they are worthy of a second look, a smile, eye contact, a friendly “hello” and a chat, and it does wonders for their self-worth. They start to smile, they stand up straighter and start to chat. They become more confident and are elated with the food, clothes and other basics they can take with them for free. The BBQs improve the health and wellbeing of the homeless and therewith also improve society as a whole. There is nothing but positives coming from these BBQs, where everything is free for everybody.

The man I am talking about has built a dedicated team around him that has helped him make his long-held dream of founding a charity reality, so that more people can be helped on a larger scale. After a long and arduous road Signal Flare is now a registered charity with the ACNC (Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission) and with the Office of Fair Trading, and is a Deductible Gift Recipient. This means Signal Flare can receive donations which are tax deductible. This is so important because at present Signal Flare does not receive government funding and relies solely upon memberships, donations and sponsorships.

If you would like any more information about Signal Flare or would like to support Signal Flare by becoming a financial member or by sponsorship, please contact me at If you would like to donate to Signal Flare, here are the bank details:

Bank of Queensland

BSB:       124-001

AC No:  22066259

Name:  Signal Flare Inc

If you are donating, please email Tom, our Treasurer, at with your contact details, the amount you are donating and the date of donation so he can send you a donation receipt.

If you would like to see more of what we are all about, if you want to meet our very lively online community, take part in our discussions and follow what we do, please feel free to check out and Like our Facebook site: 

The team is proud at the accomplishment of becoming a registered charity (final registration has only come through last month, yes, January!) and has great plans for growth for the charity and for the different kinds of assistance Signal Flare will be able to provide to the homeless and others in need. We are a true community charity as we rely on donations of goods as well as monetary donations and sponsorships from the community, and we are proud because we can truly say that through Signal Flare the community comes together to help the homeless and those in need.

The homeless man with a dream has come a very long way since his first homeless BBQ. From Big Issue vendor to founder of Signal Flare, Grant the Polite Guy has found his niche. He has come home in more ways than one. And I am so privileged to have witnessed the transformation. What this man does, he does from the heart. He does not see the point of doing something if it is not going to help someone else. They don’t come more genuine than Grant, and he is the soul of Signal Flare, our charity. Here’s to Grant, to Signal Flare and to its supporters!

Written by Bernie the Polite Girl