STEPS OUTREACH SERVICE
OUTREACH AND SUPPORT TO YOUNG PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS
The impact of COVID-19 has meant necessary changes to our work.
We have placed our regular face-to-face outreach work on hold, and have transitioned to using virtual means to stay in touch with the young people that we know and provide them with crucial connection and support. Some of the young people don’t have phones or internet, so we’re working to get them connected. We’re so lucky to have technology that allows us to care for some of the most vulnerable young people in our community in this time of disruption.
Many of the young people we have been supporting had gained temporary or semi-permanent accommodation before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so our ongoing connection will be focused on helping them to maintain that stability, attend to their material needs (including safely delivering food) and nurturing their mental health.
We are being guided by advice from the Council to Homeless Persons, and working with partner organisations such as Launch Housing to advocate for people who are experiencing homelessness and get young people off the street which is now more important than ever, for their safety and that of the wider community. Find out more in this article from The Age.
STEPS’ WORKERS AND VOLUNTEERS HELP YOUNG PEOPLE, children and their families WITH LONG-TERM RELATIONAL AND PRACTICAL SUPPORT, INCLUDING ADVOCACY, REFERRAL AND MATERIAL AID.
STEPS helps young people to build a sense of self-worth and equips them with the tools they need to create a positive future.
Scared, exhausted and cold, Sarah slept rough in the city for nearly 6 months. It was difficult to sleep at night lying on the cold, hard footpath. There were rats and bugs and scary people who yelled at her and stole her possessions.
The Steps’ team met Sarah at a food van in the city. They listened to her story and helped her with her needs, initially by buying her a meal and a hot drink, supplying warm clothing and toiletries and giving her someone to talk to that she could trust and rely on.
Sarah told the Steps workers that she was removed from her family when she was 5 years old due to abuse and neglect. She grew up in out-of-home care until she was exited at 18 years old. As a result of the trauma she has experienced and her mental health issues, her behaviour is often chaotic and she easily becomes aggressive. Because of this, she burnt a lot of bridges with crisis accommodation services, many refusing to have her back and she eventually ended up on the street.
With perseverance, patience and empathy, Steps’ workers developed a caring, trusting relationship with Sarah. They met with her regularly and demonstrated to her that they care about her. They helped her develop goals and affirmed her strengths and ability to achieve her goals. Her first goal was to get off the street. Steps referred Sarah to a housing service and to mental health support, drove her to appointments and advocated for her with these services.
It took a long time and a lot of support but Sarah is now living in a one bedroom unit, seeing a psychologist and making positive changes in her life. She recently finished a barista course and is focused on getting a job.