James Smith and Billie Murphy get Christmas offers of housing and lunch

James Smith, Billie Murphy and their two-year-old daughter Hannah Smith will soon have a roof over their heads thanks to Moorabool mayor Paul Tatchell, plus a generous offer of Christmas lunch. 
Picture: KATE HEALY

James Smith, Billie Murphy and their two-year-old daughter Hannah Smith will soon have a roof over their heads thanks to Moorabool mayor Paul Tatchell, plus a generous offer of Christmas lunch. Picture: KATE HEALY

ON Saturday morning James Smith, Billie Murphy and their two-year-old daughter Hannah had no-one to spend Christmas with and nowhere to sleep apart from a Holden Commodore sedan.

Now they will share Christmas with a generous family and a roof over their head thanks to the Moorabool Shire.

The community responded to Saturday's story in The Courier with offers of help and, in the case of Moorabool mayor Paul Tatchell, permanent accommodation.

Cr Tatchell said he would find somewhere for the family to stay even though emergency accommodation in the shire was stretched.

"I'll be damned if we let kids stay in a car over Christmas," Cr Tatchell said. "If they are in strife let's see if we can help them out.

"We're pretty full up in terms of emergency accommodation but we'll come up with something. Even if it's a tent and they have to treat it like they are on holiday camping."

Cr Tatchell offered Ms Murphy and her family a cabin in Ballan would be made available once renovations were completed.

Meanwhile Ballarat couple Steve Atkinson and Cathy Bryant invited the family to a Christmas lunch.

"We thought if that particular family had no where to go on Christmas Day they would be welcome to enjoy the day with us," Mr Atkinson said.

"There will be stacks of food. There always is. There will be turkey, beef, ham and even some cold beverages.

"My wife and I have been talking about inviting people who might be on their own to join us. Then we saw the story in The Courier. There might be only a dozen or so people there but it will be very friendly.

"We were inspired by a Facebook group called 'Humans in New York' where you can read amazing stories about people helping each other."

Ms Murphy said she was surprised and overwhelmed by the generous offers of help.

She said her family's outlook had changed dramatically in the space of a couple of days.

"We are feeling a lot happier and a lot more confident about the future," she explained.

"We had some offers of accommodation over Facebook but it was out of our price range but then (Cr Tatchell) told us that a cabin in Ballan should become available after it is renovated.

"We certainly didn't expect anyone to offer us that (Christmas lunch). We were very pleased to accept."