Twin sisters recognised for charity work

Michael Ramsey
Identical twins Eileen Giles (right) and Patty Powell run homeless charity Servants of United Love

Running a charity comes with plenty of challenges but business partners Eileen Giles and Patty Powell share a special bond.

The 65-year-olds, who have received Medals of the Order of Australia in recognition of their charity work, are identical twin sisters.

For more than a decade, they have helped homeless people in Rockingham, south of Perth, through their Servants of United Love (SOUL) organisation.

"Because we are identical twins, our thought process is pretty similar," Ms Powell told AAP.

"If we have to make a decision then we will always make contact with one another and we will always pray about what we need to do."

What started as a soup van in 2008 has grown to include housing for pregnant women in need and a charity shop that sells repurposed furniture and donated items.

"In 2018, 50 babies went into care from King Edward Hospital alone because their mums didn't have appropriate accommodation," Ms Powell said.

"There was a real gap, especially for women over 25."

Part of the sisters' approach includes teaching life skills, helping to reunify mothers with children who are in care, and identifying at-risk groups, including overseas students who fall pregnant and are rejected by their families.

The charity has about 25 volunteers and also receives generous support from local businesses and members of the community.

While their work is highly rewarding, the sisters have also seen an increased need for housing and financial support over the past decade.

"When people are on Newstart, the money is very tight," Ms Giles said.

"If they've got an electricity bill to pay, then they pay that because their electricity will get cut off but then they've got no food.

"I definitely see a lot of families in crisis, really."